OSHA recently cited Larry Strate Plumbing & Heating after a foreman died while working in an excavated trench in Lee's Summit, Mo.
According to OSHA, the worker was installing sanitary sewer lines at a residential home under construction when the incident occurred on Oct 24, 2013. The agency cited the plumbing company for five serious violations.
"This was a tragic incident that may have been prevented with the installation of trench protection and with additional employee training," said Barbara Theriot, OSHA's area director in Kansas City, Mo. "Trenching hazards result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year. Companies specializing in this type of work have a responsibility to protect their workers from known hazards."
The five violations involve Larry Strate Plumbing & Heating’s alleged failure to:
- Provide a safe means of egress from a trench.
- Protect workers in a trench from the trench collapsing.
- Ensure that equipment and soil piles are maintained at least 2 feet from a trench.
- Inspect trenches daily, prior to each shift and after each shift, to ensure stability.
- Train workers to recognize hazards associated with trenches.
OSHA trenching and excavation standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper must be protected against collapse. OSHA implemented a national emphasis program for trenching and excavation in the 1980s.
OSHA has proposed fines of $35,000 for the plumbing company, which has 15 days from receipt of the citations to comply or contest them.