When OSHA inspectors saw employees of Blue Nile Contractors, Inc. exposed to trenching and excavation hazards while installing water lines at a Kansas City, Missouri jobsite, it wasn’t a first for the company. Among the violations arising from that May 2019 inspection were four repeat violations, along with five serious ones – with proposed penalties of $210,037.

Additionally, the Birmingham, Missouri-based company had been placed in the Agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program

Collapses can be quick

“Trench collapses can be quick and cause serious or fatal injuries, but they are preventable,” said OSHA Kansas City Area Director Karena Lorek. “Employers must ensure that there is a safe way to enter and exit a trench, cave-in protection is used, all materials are placed away from the trench’s edge, standing water and other hazards are addressed, and no one enters a trench before it has been properly inspected.”

Compliance resources

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The page includes a trenching operations QuickCard on protecting workers around trenches, and the “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent trench collapses.