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U.S. Department of Labor | April 5, 2016 BOS 2016-050

Trench collapse, injuries to Schenectady contractor's employee
at Albany County job site 'needless and avoidable': OSHA
Plank Construction Co. Inc. faces $59k in fines

Employer name: Plank Construction Co. Inc., a construction general contractor in Schenectady, New York

Inspection site: Wards Lane, Dutch Village, Menands, New York

Investigation findings: Plank Construction Co. Inc. employees were installing a storm sewer system as part of the construction of new buildings at Dutch Village. On Oct. 3, 2015, the 8-foot deep trench in which they were working collapsed onto one of the employees. He was extricated and hospitalized.

An inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Albany Area Office found that the employer did not protect the trench against collapse, and failed to provide a safe means for workers to exit the trench. OSHA cited Plank Construction on March 31, 2016, for one willful violation and one serious violation of excavation safety standards for these conditions.

OSHA standards require* that trenches and excavation 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Protection measures can include shoring the trench's sidewalls, installing a protective trench box or sloping the soil at a shallow angle.

Proposed penalties: $59,290

Quote: "The collapse and the worker's injuries were needless and avoidable. Plank Construction should not have allowed its employees into the trench until it was effectively protected against collapse," said Robert Garvey, OSHA's area director in Albany. "This employee survived but many others are not as lucky; nationwide, two employees die each month in similar circumstances. An unprotected trench* can turn into a grave in seconds unless employers use the necessary and legally required safeguards every time in every trench."

View the citations: Here.*

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Albany Area Office at 518-464-4338.

# # #

Media Contact:

Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Release Number: 16-707-NEW


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