Contractor fined $91K for deadly trench collapse
A Mason, OH, excavation contractor is facing a $91,000 fine for a trench collapse that killed a 26-year-old employee last year.
OSHA alleged Stauffer Site Services didn’t provide trench cave-in protection for employees during a storm sewer replacement project in Hillsboro, OH. As a result, a 10-foot-deep trench collapsed and buried a Stauffer employee. The employee died two days later from his injuries.
The Times-Gazette identified the employee as 26-year-old Marcus Mennett. He had only been working with Stauffer for a month before the accident.
Mennett was almost completely buried when the trench collapsed and fire and emergency crews arrived, and he was without a pulse and not breathing when he was extricated. Fox 19 reported he was trapped for almost 18 minutes.
As OSHA explained in a press release, a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds. That’s about the weight of a small automobile.
The contractor began the construction project in mid-September 2015, and it was set to finish Oct. 15, according to the Times-Gazette. The deadly trench collapse happened on Oct. 6.
OSHA cited Stauffer for one willful and three serious safety violations for failure to:
- provide a means of access and egress within 25 feet of the work area
- train employees in the recognition of unsafe conditions
- conduct worksite inspections by a competent person, and
- provide a sidewall protective system in the trench.
Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati, said in a press release:
“This tragic death is a reminder of just how quickly an unprotected trench can become a death trap as a worker is buried under thousands of pounds of soil. OSHA’s trenching standards require that every trench deeper than five feet must have cave-in protection.”
Stauffer has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.