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OSHA News Release
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Region 8


August 20, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Cites South Dakota Contractor
For Exposing Employees to Trenching Hazards

SIOUX FALLS, SD ‒ The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Midwest Excavating LLC for exposing employees to trench cave-in hazards at a jobsite in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The company faces penalties of $58,343.

OSHA initiated an inspection of the jobsite after receiving a complaint of employees allegedly working in an inadequately protected trench. Inspectors determined that there was a potential for a trench collapse due to the presence of water, vertical walls, and a depth greater than seven feet. OSHA cited Midwest Excavating for one willful and one serious citation for failing to protect employees from cave-in hazards.

“OSHA regulations require the use of trench protective systems in all trenches deeper than five feet,” said Sheila Stanley, Sioux Falls Area Director. “Employers can prevent a cave-in by sloping, shoring, or shielding trench walls.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The page includes a trenching operations QuickCard on protecting workers around trenches, and the "Protect Workers in Trenches" poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations 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.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-4727, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 19-1377-DAK


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