Trench collapse death brings visit from OSHA inspectors
19-year-old died in cave-in
A 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*.