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Trench collapse death brings visit from OSHA inspectors

19-year-old died in cave-in

May 4, 2012
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trenchA Wisconsin company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP), after the death of a teenaged worker in a trench collapse revealed numerous safety hazards.

The 19-year old employee of River Falls-based Gordy's Pump Service died when an unprotected trench collapsed at a Spring Valley job site on Nov. 3, 2011. He and one other worker had just finished locating an existing waterline in the trench using a hand-held shovel when a sidewall caved in. The trench was approximately 220 feet long, 6 feet deep and 2 feet wide. The other worker was not injured.

Gordy's Pump Service was cited for three serious and two willful violations as a result of an inspection following the worker's death.

The willful violations include failing to provide required cave-in protection and a means of egress from the trench.

Three serious violations include failing to ensure the use of head protection, keep spoil piles at least 2 feet back from the excavation's edge and train employees working in trenches to recognize excavation hazards.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Due to the willful violations, OSHA has placed Gordy's Pump Service in its SVEP, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.

The citations can be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GordysPumpService_108561_04-30-2012.pdf*.

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