SD Co To Pay Up for Trench Cave-In Hazards

Midwest Excavating LLC is facing stiff penalties imposed by OSHA for exposing employees to trench cave-in hazards at a jobsite in Sioux Falls, South Dakota.

Proposed fines for the violations are $58,343.

OSHA initiated an inspection of the jobsite after receiving a complaint of employees allegedly working in an inadequately protected trench.

Inspectors determined that there was a potential for a trench collapse due to the presence of water, vertical walls, and a depth greater than seven feet.

According to OSHA, trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. 

Earlier this month, a trenching company in Missouri was cited $212,158 for:

  • Allowing soil and other excavated material within 2 ft. of an open trench;
  • Failing to ensure daily inspections of worksites by a competent person; and
  • Exposing employees to struck-by hazards by allowing employees to work near and under lifted loads without hard hats.

OSHA cited Midwest Excavating for one willful and one serious citation for failing to protect employees from cave-in hazards.

Sheila Stanley, Sioux Falls Area Director said, “OSHA regulations require the use of trench protective systems in all trenches deeper than five feet. Employers can prevent a cave-in by sloping, shoring, or shielding trench walls.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards.

The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The page includes a trenching operations QuickCard on protecting workers around trenches and the “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses.

Midwest Excavating has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.