Georgia Telecommunications Contractor Faces Fines Following Fatality

July 27, 2020
A trench collapse led to an OSHA investigation.

Excavation collapses remain one of the most treacherous hazards workers face, says OSHA Savannah Area Office Director Margo Westmoreland. 

The agency recently cited Georgia-based Triple S Communications for violations trenching and excavation standards following a worker fatality.

Westmoreland emphasized the importance of addressing these hazards, saying, "Excavation collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the workplace. Employers must be vigilant in identifying and mitigating these hazards."

A trench collapse that fatally injured a worker at a Triple S Communication worksite triggered the subsequent investigation.The employee was attempting to performing tasks related to fiber optic connections, according to the agency report.

OSHA cited the company for  violating the following standards around the date of January 22, 2020:

29 CFR 1926. 21 (b)(2) - Serious -  Triple S did not instruct employees about how to recognize hazards and implement appropriate controls associated with excavations, thus exposing workers to cave-in and engulfment hazards. Proposed penalty: $9,446

29 CFR 1926.651 (c)(2) - Serious - A means of safe egress was not located in a 10 ft.-deep excavation. Proposed penalty - $9,446

29 CFR 1926.651 (h)(1) - Serious - Employees worked inside a 10.ft-deep trench that did not have precautions in place to protect them from water accumulation. Proposed penalty:  $9,446

29 CFR 1926.651 (k)(1) - Serious - Workers were permitted to perform tasks in the trench which was not inspected by a competent person. Proposed penalty: $9,446

29 CFR 1926.652 (a)(1) - Serious - Employees worked in the trench without protective systems in place. Proposed penalty: $13,494

29 CFR 1904.39 (a)(1) - Other-than-Serious - Triple S did not report a worker death to OSHA within 8 hours. Proposed penalty: $6,747

In total, the company faces $58,025 in fines.

"Training employees to recognize and control hazards can minimize serious and fatal injuries. OSHA encourages employers to contact the agency for compliance assistance with trenching and excavation requirements," Westmoreland stated.

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