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OSHA News Brief

November 3, 2023

US Department of Labor cites 3 Jacksonville contractors for exposing workers to potentially deadly cave-in hazards at Middleburg worksite 

OSHA proposes $131K in penalties for lack of shoring, trench box during excavation work

Employers:  KBT Contracting Corp.
5105 Blanding Blvd.
Jacksonville, FL 32210

Aquino Construction Inc.
11465 Branan Field Road
Jacksonville, FL 32222

Darmick LLC
1804 Bartram Circle East
Jacksonville, FL 32207

Investigation Findings:  On July 27, 2023, a U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator observed three Aquino Construction employees working at a Middleburg worksite in an unprotected trench, about 8-feet-deep, 55-feet-long and 9-feet wide installing casing around an existing sewer line. The trench lacked shoring or a trench box to prevent cave-ins. The investigator also saw a superintendent employed by KBT Contracting Corp. — the project's general contractor — standing on the trench's edge and the owner of Darmick LLC in an excavator, watching the employees working.

Issued citations and proposed penalties:  OSHA cited all three employers with one willful violation each for exposing employees to cave-in hazards by failing to shore the trench or use a protective system such as a trench box. The agency also cited each employer with a serious violation for placing spoil piles on the leading edge of the trench, exposing workers to struck-by hazards. OSHA proposed $65,182 in penalties for KBT Contracting Corp. and $33,261 in proposed penalties each to Aquino Construction and Darmick.

Background:  Recently, OSHA announced enhanced nationwide enforcement and additional oversight to support its national emphasis program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses. The agency's trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a video on tips for safe excavations. Among the industry's most lethal hazards, unsafe trenching led to 39 construction workers suffering fatal injuries in 2022.

Quote:  "Trenching hazards are well known throughout the construction industry and fatal accidents can occur in the blink of an eye. Supervisors and owners of companies that send workers into trenches while bypassing live-saving precautions show a willful indifference to placing their employees in life-threatening situations," said OSHA Area Office Director Scott Tisdale in Jacksonville, Florida. "Fortunately, we were able to correct the hazards before a cave-in occurred."

Media Contacts: 

Eric R. Lucero, 678-237-0630,
Erika B. Ruthman, 678-237-0630,

Release Number:  23-2237-ATL (345)