A partial trench collapse that trapped a worker has led to a citation and proposed penalties totaling $116,500 for Ramos Industries, Inc. of Houston.

OSHA cited the company with one alleged willful, four alleged serious and one alleged repeat violation following an investigation that began Dec. 7, 2004, when an employee working in a 17-foot deep trench at a construction site in Palmhurst, Texas, was trapped for several hours while rescuers had to shore up the lower portions of the trench before they could enter to extract the injured worker.

The investigation revealed that the employee was working in an unguarded trench without an escape ladder, according to OSHA.

The willful citation was for failing to install trench protective systems so that less than two feet of unprotected trench wall existed below the bottom of the trench box.

The serious citations were for:

  • failing to properly move trench boxes to prevent damage during transportation;
  • failing to provide a competent person to daily inspect trenches; and
  • failing to use a trench protective system with appropriate strength.

The repeat citation is for failing to have a safe means of entering and exiting trenches. A violation is designated as repeat when a similar citation for the same hazard was issued in the previous three years.

Ramose Industries, which employs about 254 workers, has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply with or contest the citations and proposed penalties.