OSHA cites companies after excavation fatality

The Occupational Safety and Health Admini-stration has cited TGR Constructors of Bed-ford, TX, for an alleged willful violation of a fatal excavation accident in Lewisville and has proposed penalties totaling $35,000.

Dean Wingo, OSHA Fort Worth area director, says the fatality is a good example of why trench safety is so important. "Collapse protection is essential since the sides of a trench can collapse with great force and without warning, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape," he says.

An employee of TGR Constructors was trapped on Dec. 30, 1999, by a trench wall cave-in and died during the rescue attempt by the local fire departments. "An OSHA compliance officer returned to the same job site of the fatality and observed employees working in an unprotected trench exposing them to potential cave-in or collapse," Wingo says.

OSHA’s excavation safety standard requires that excavations 5 feet or deeper must have a protective system in place to prevent cave-ins. Such protection can be supplied by shoring the trench’s sidewalls or by sloping those sidewalls at a shallow angle. Wingo says neither safeguard was properly in place or in use in the excavation at the time of the two inspections.