On Dec. 15 2016, 33-year-old Donald Meyer arrived at a job site and began to perform his duties as a plumber. He never returned home.
While working in a 12-ft-deep unprotected trench, the walls collapsed around Meyer, burying him in 10 ft. of dirt. Rescue crews did not recover his body until that night.
An OSHA fatality investigation discovered that Arrow Plumbing LLC, the Blue Springs, Mo-based subcontractor, failed to protect workers from trenching hazards. A subsequent visit to a Kansas City, Mo. job site just one month later found found the contractor’s employees working in an unprotected trench at another residential work site. No employees were injured at the site.
“We call on all employers involved in excavation work to review their safety procedures, and to ensure that all workers are properly protected and trained on the job,” said Kimberly Stille, OSHA’s regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. in a statement.
At both sites, investigators discovered Arrow Plumbing LLC did not install a support system to protect workers in from a cave in, it did not train workers about how to identify hazards in trenching and excavation work, and did not provide a ladder at all times so employees could evacuate or leave a trench.
In total, OSHA found Arrow Plumbing LLC committed six willful and eight serious violations of workplace safety standards. The agency has proposed a total of $714,142 in penalties.