OSHA has cited Goose Lake Construction Inc. after an employee suffered serious injuries when an unprotected trench collapsed, burying him up to his waist at a Glencoe, Illinois, worksite. The agency proposed penalties of $233,377.

No exit, PPE or safety training

Inspectors determined that the company failed to follow required safety measures for employees working on residential storm sewers in a trench deeper than 5 feet. OSHA cited Goose Lake Construction Inc. for failing to:

  • provide a safe means of entry and exit from the trench
  • install a trench box or other protective system to prevent trench walls from collapsing 
  • place excavated material at least 2 feet from the trench’s edge, as required
  • ensure employees wore hard hats to protect from struck-by hazards; and
  • train employees to recognize, avoid and control hazardous conditions associated with trenching and excavation work

“This employee suffered serious injuries that could have been prevented if the employer complied with trenching and excavation standards,” said OSHA Des Plaines Area Director Angeline Loftus. “OSHA regulations and industry standards require employers to slope, shore, or shield trench walls in trenches to prevent collapses.”

Trenching safety resources

In 2018, OSHA updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries from trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions including a trenching operations QuickCard that provides information on protecting workers around trenches and OSHA’s “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses. The poster is available in English and Spanish.