Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Casher was still a "new guy" employed by a Beaver-based plumbing company when he left home for work in September 2015. He probably never imagined that, as he worked to install a sewer line 11-feet underground in Butler, it was to be the last day of his life.
Three weeks on the job
On Sept. 28, 2015, the excavation in which he worked collapsed, crushing and burying Casher under thousands of pounds of earth. Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, the weight of a small automobile. His employer, A Rooter Man of Pittsburgh LLC hired him just three weeks before the incident occurred.
After its investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited A Rooter Man for two willful and seven serious violations. The incident occurred at a commercial construction site in Butler.
Company owner aware of unstable soil
Federal inspectors found the company exposed multiple employees regularly to cave-in hazards while they worked in unprotected excavations more than 5-feet deep. The agency determined that since the company's owner normally served as the excavator on the job, he was aware of the highly unstable condition of the excavated soil. OSHA found the employer also failed to protect employees from loose rock or soil by not keeping the spoils pile at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation.
"A Rooter Man of Pittsburgh knowingly took unacceptable risks in an excavation, which led to a tragic and preventable death of a young man with his whole future ahead," said Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh Area Office. "Common-sense safety practices would have prevented this trench from turning into a worker's grave."
The citations carry a total of $174,000 in penalties.