Department of Labor Logo
OSHA Regional News Brief
Region 3

Please note: Information in some news releases may be out of date or may no longer reflect OSHA policy.


April 11, 2016


Dauphin County plumbing, heating worker hospitalized after trench cave-in
OSHA fines Middletown contractor $41K for failing to protect employees

Employer name: Williamson Plumbing and Heating Inc., doing business as Roto-Rooter Services Co., 4197 East Harrisburg Pike, Middletown, Pennsylvania

Site: 1857 Pebble Court, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Citations issued: On April 1, 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations for one willful, six serious, and one other-than-serious violations.

Investigation findings: On Sept. 30, 2015, the Pennsylvania Emergency Management Agency notified OSHA of a trench collapse and the federal agency opened an inspection. When OSHA inspectors arrived onsite, they found a Williamson Plumbing employee was injured while working in an unprotected trench approximately 10-feet deep. The trench's sidewall collapsed - trapping and injuring the worker who required hospitalization. OSHA cited the plumbing contractor's company for the hazard.

The agency also issued citations to the company for failing to:

  • Keep excavated materials at least 2 feet from the edge of the trench.
  • Construct trenches in accordance with allowable slopes and configurations.
  • Ensure that a competent person inspected the trench.
  • Instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions.
  • Maintain OSHA injury and illness records.

Proposed penalty: $41,200

Quote: "Williamson Plumbing and Heating was lucky to avoid tragedy here. Trench collapses can easily become underground deathtraps for workers. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small automobile in a cave-in," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "Incidents like this one are preventable when an employer puts a proper protective system in place. Any company engaged in excavation and trenching operations has a responsibility to do what's required to ensure its employees are safe while they work."

View the citations:

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 Harrisburg Area Office at 717-782-3902.

# # #

Media Contacts:

Leni Fortson, 215-861-5102,
Joanna Hawkins, 215-861-5101,

Release Number: 16-705-PHI (OSHA 16-038 Roto Rooter - Williamson Plumbing & Heating)

U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).