Federal safety officials have cited a South Dakota company for failing to protect its workers from trench collapse hazards. Fort Pierre-based First Dakota Enterprises Inc. faces proposed penalties of $95,064 imposed by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
On May 23, 2017, a 34-year-old worker was completely buried when the walls of a 14-foot trench collapsed around him. Co-workers quickly freed the victim’s head, which allowed him to breathe while emergency personnel worked for more than 30 minutes to free him.
OSHA investigators determined that First Dakota Enterprises Inc., failed to use a trench protective system or conduct regular site inspections to correct potentially hazardous conditions. OSHA cited the company, which was contracted by the City of Emery to replace the city’s main sewer and water lines, for two repeat and one serious safety violations.
Trench collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the construction industry. As of June 1, 2017, 15 workers have died in trench collapses. In 2016, a total of 23 deaths occurred in trench and excavation operations.
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