January 30, 2023
Connecticut contractor's failure to address hazards turns deadlywhen trench collapse buried worker at Vernon job site
Botticello Inc. faces $375K in OSHA fines after death that 'never should have happened'
HARTFORD, CT – A federal investigation has found a Manchester contractor's failure to provide legally required safeguards and make sure they were in place to prevent trench collapses contributed to the July 22, 2022, death of an employee buried when an 8-foot-deep trench caved in.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Botticello Inc. exposed their worker to deadly hazards as he connected drainage piping at a residential development construction site in Vernon. Previously, in November 2015, OSHA inspectors identified four serious violations related to trenching work by Botticello Inc. at a Stafford worksite.
"This deadly cave-in and the worker's death should never have happened," said OSHA Area Director Dale Varney in Hartford, Connecticut. "After a previous OSHA inspection, Botticello Inc. knew of the dangers of working in an unprotected trench and the need to inspect the trench and ensure required effective cave-in protection was in place before any employee entered the trench. The company, however, still chose to ignore these required safeguards and now a worker's family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve."
Specifically, OSHA found that Botticello Inc. failed to:
- Provide the trench with a protective system to prevent it from collapsing and caving in on workers.
- Have a competent person conduct inspections before and during the work to identify and correct any hazardous conditions before employees entered the trench.
- Ensure the 135-foot-long trench contained sufficient means of egress to allow employees to safely exit.
As a result of the violations and the employer's prior knowledge, OSHA cited Botticello Inc. for three willful violations and proposed $375,021 in penalties.
Federal trenching safety standards require protective systems for trenches deeper than 5 feet, and that soil and other materials be kept at least 2 feet from the trench's edge. Trenches must also be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entry and exit before a worker may enter.
"By most estimates, one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds – about the weight of a subcompact car – and trench collapses happen in seconds, which helps explain why they are among the construction industry's most fatal hazards," Varney explained. "OSHA has a National Emphasis Program in place to alert employers and workers of the dangers, and to hold violators accountable. We encourage anyone who sees workers in an unsafe trench to help us save lives by reporting the hazardous situation to OSHA."
The family owned Botticello Inc. provides construction contracting services including site work, rock crushing, stump grinding and demolition.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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Release Number: 23-29-BOS