A California construction company that dismantled a trench box while an employee was still working inside, causing him to be fatally crushed, has been cited by Cal/OSHA for safety violations. The agency determined that general contractor Bay Construction Co. committed willful-serious safety violations by unsafely removing a linear support rail that fell and killed the worker.
How it happened
Bay Construction Co. of Oakland assembled a trench box on April 23 to install underground pump station equipment at the Martin Luther King Jr. Regional Shoreline in Oakland. Four days later, the crew was finishing up the underground work when a worker was compacting dirt inside the trench box and another was using an excavator with a four-hook bridle sling to remove the shoring system’s 5,000-pound linear rails. The hooks used for the sling were not adequate for this operation and one failed, dropping a rail and fatally crushing the worker inside the trench.
“Shield systems are designed to protect employees from cave-ins when working in an excavation,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum. “Employers must ensure that no one is inside of the excavation when the protective system is being installed or removed.”
Nine citations, $141K+ in penalties
Cal/OSHA issued nine citations to Bay Construction Co. with $141,075 in proposed penalties, including five classified as general, two serious, one serious accident-related and one willful-serious accident-related. The willful-serious accident-related citation was issued for failing to ensure that no employees were in the trench shield while it was being dismantled. The serious accident-related citation was issued for the employer’s failure to use adequate hooks to remove the heavy linear rails. The citations for serious violations were issued for failing to conduct daily inspections of the excavation site to identify any potential hazards and failure to implement multiple sections of the employer’s Injury and Illness Prevention Program, which includes training and instruction to employees working in excavations.