trenchTwo workers killed in a trench cave-in Oct. 1, 2014 in Boonton, NJ died because the company had failed to provide cave-in protection, an OSHA inspection has found.

Bednar Landscape Services employees Oscar Portillo and Selvin Zelaya were working in a trench that ranged from nine to 13 feet deep, installing a French drain system, when the accident occurred.

Company was "plainly indifferent"

“One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small car when a trench caves-in or collapses. Without the required protections, these men had no way to escape and their heartbroken families are left to make sense of a needless tragedy,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. “Bednar management placed its employees in mortal danger by not using cave-in protections, and we believe these managers were plainly indifferent to the serious dangers their workers faced.”

Bednar Landscape Services Inc provides landscape, excavation and snow removal services throughout northern New Jersey. The company was found responsible for one willful and nine serious safety violations.

The violations

The willful citation was due to the trench not being adequately sloped, protected by shields or shoring.

The serious violations included not providing a ladder in the trench every 25 feet to allow safe exit, not having a competent person inspect the trench, and failure to have utilities marked out, provide head protection, and train workers on the hazards of the chemicals with which they worked.

Proposed Penalties: $77,000

OSHA requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle, or by using a protective trench box. OSHA has created a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.