A month after a 33-year-old worker died while working in an unprotected trench, U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found another employee of the same Missouri plumbing contractor working in a similarly unprotected trench at another job site.
OSHA determined that, in both cases, Arrow Plumbing LLC of Blue Springs failed to provide basic safeguards to prevent trench collapse and did not train its employees to recognize and avoid cave-in and other hazards.
OSHA cited Arrow Plumbing for six willful and eight serious violations of workplace safety standards and proposed $714,142 in penalties.
OSHA opened its first investigation of Arrow Plumbing after a 33-year-old employee died on Dec. 15, 2016, when a 12-foot trench collapsed at a home construction site in Belton. A second investigation began on Jan. 20, 2017, at a Kansas City work site where inspectors found the contractor’s employees working in an unprotected trench at another residential work site. No employees were injured there.
OSHA found similar violations at both work sites, and they included the company’s failure to install a support system to protect employees in an approximate 12-foot-deep trench from caving-in; training workers on how to identify hazards in trenching and excavation work, and providing a ladder at all times so employees could leave a trench.
Trench collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the construction industry. In 2016, OSHA received reports of 23 deaths and 12 injuries nationwide in trench and excavation operations. In the first five months of 2017, 15 deaths and 19 injuries have been reported nationwide.
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