According to OSHA, a compliance safety and health officer (CSHO) from the agency’s North Aurora, Ill., area office was at a jobsite to conduct a trench inspection under OSHA’s local and national emphasis programs when he observed an employee working in an unprotected trench that was six feet deep and three feet wide. The CSHO noted that the trench wall showed obvious cracks and fissures.

When the CSHO identified the hazards, the construction employer voluntarily removed the employee from the unsafe trench, OSHA says. The inspector immediately began describing the hazards of a trench wall collapse to the employee and other company officials. Approximately five minutes later, the wall caved in at the spot where the employee had been working.