After a six-month investigation, OSHA has issued citations to the employer of an Ohio man killed in a trench collapse last December – and they weren’t the first for the company.

In the most recent fatality, JK Excavating & Utilities, Inc. employee Zach Hess died when a trench he was working in collapsed. It took first responders hours to recover the body of the 25-year-old.

OSHA has proposed penalties of $202,201, and placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP).

OSHA investigators determined that JK Excavating employees were working in trenches up to 16-feet deep without adequate cave-in protection. OSHA cited the company for failing to:

  • use protective systems to prevent a cave-in
  • implement methods to remove accumulating water
  • properly use ladders to enter and exit the trench
  • prevent employees from working beneath a suspended trench box
  • ensure employees wore hard hats; and
  • make provisions for prompt medical attention in the event of injury.

JK Excavating was cited in 2014 for violating workplace safety for trenching hazards and fined $5,850 for two “serious” violations that occurred in July 2014. OSHA documents show that employees were working in 7-foot-deep excavations that had no access or egress and inadequate protection against cave-ins.