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Cal/OSHA Cites, Fines Firm $141K in Trench Death

Monday, December 3, 2018

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The California Division of Operational Safety and Health announced earlier this month that it has cited a general contractor—as well as imposed a $141,075 fine—in connection with a fatal trench accident in April.

According to Cal/OSHA, investigators found that Bay Construction Co., of Oakland, committed willful-serious safety violations by unsafely removing a linear support rail that fell and fatally crushed the worker.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration

The California Division of Operational Safety and Health announced earlier this month that it has cited a general contractor—as well as imposed a $141,075 fine—in connection with a fatal trench accident in April. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers in March that showed excavation and trenching fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous two years combined.

“Shield systems are designed to protect employees from cave-ins when working in an excavation,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that no one is inside of the excavation when the protective system is being installed or removed.”

What Happened

According to Cal/OSHA, Bay Construction assembled a trench box on April 23 to install underground pump station equipment. Four days later, the crew was finishing up the underground work when a worker was compacting dirt inside the trench box and another was using an excavator with a four-hook bridle sling to remove the shoring system’s 5,000-pound linear rails.

The hooks used for the sling were found to be inadequate for the operation and one failed, according to the report, dropping a rail and fatally crushing the worker in the trench.

Cal/OSHA issued nine citations along with the fine. The citations included five general, two serious, one serious accident-related and one willful-serious accident-related.

Safety

The agency notes that it offers safety resources, including how to safely perform trench and excavation operations and as recently as last month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it had updated its National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses.

Ed Brown, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The agency notes that it offers safety resources, including how to safely perform trench and excavation operations and as recently as last month, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced that it had updated its National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses.

That update was prompted by the recent uptick in trenching fatalities, OSHA said, adding that it plans to increase education and enforcement efforts.

OSHA is in the middle of a three-month period of education and outreach that began Oct. 1, which is supposed to yield enforcement activities.

The DOL committed to reducing excavation and trenching hazards back in March, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers that showed excavation and trenching fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous two years combined.

   

Tagged categories: Citations; Enforcement; Health and safety; OSHA; OSHA; Regulations; Safety

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