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Region 8 News Release:   07-OSHA
02-15-2000
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
PHONE: (303)844-1302

Colorado Worker Killed Last August

OSHA FINES MEEKER CONTRACTOR $153,450 FOR WILLFUL AND SERIOUS VIOLATIONS OF TRENCHING AND EXCAVATION STANDARDS

C & C Plumbing and Heating, Inc., Meeker, Colo., was cited Monday for willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and issued proposed penalties totaling $153,450.

The violations and penalties were issued by the Denver area office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after a fatality investigation. The fatality resulted from a trench collapse which occurred August 23, 1999 in Meeker.

"This company knew of the dangers on this job-site from two cave-ins in the same trench just three days before the fatal accident," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "Yet no attempts were made to protect employees from the trenching hazards. A young apprentice plumber died because of that indifference. This company must be held accountable."

Bobby Glover, OSHA Area Director in Denver, said the fatality resulted because the employer failed to provide adequate sloping, shoring, shields, or equivalent systems to protect employees from cave-in hazards.

Glover said in 1998, 33 workers nationwide lost their lives while doing excavation work, with cave-ins accounting for nearly 70 percent, or 23, of the fatalities.

Over the past year in Colorado OSHA has investigated ten instances of employees being caught in cave-ins which includes this one fatality in Meeker. OSHA has targeted trenching and excavation activities since the 1970's.

For further information on the citations contact Bobby Glover or Mary Lynn, OSHA Denver area office, at (303) 844-5285.

OSHA cited C & C Plumbing and Heating, Inc. for:

  • Failure to ensure that adequate egress such as a ladder was used to enter and exit the trench.Willful violation $63,000
  • Failure to conduct daily inspections of the trench by a competent person and failure to provide an adequate protective system for employees working in the trench.Willful violation $63,000
  • Five Serious Violations for not providing training, not utilizing hard hats, allowing water to accumulate in the trench, not placing excavated material a safe distance from the edge of the trench and providing inadequate shoring on the Friday prior to the fatality.Serious violations $27,450

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA Act and its regulations.

A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

Trenching is one of the most hazardous operations in the construction industry. OSHA conducts seminars and training sessions on trenching safety throughout the country. The agency also sponsors free consultation programs through state agencies or universities that can help all types of companies learn how to meet OSHA trenching requirements.

"Excavations," a 24-page guide to the OSHA trenching standard and additional materials on the topic are available on the agency's web site at http://www.osha.gov under "Technical Links," subcategory "Trenching and Excavation."

C & C Plumbing and Heating, Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to request an informal conference with the OSHA Area Director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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EDITOR'S NOTE: A photo to go with this news release is available and can be sent to you at your request via e-mail. The color photo, taken by the Meeker Police Department, shows the trench condition of the collapsed trench following the fatality.

To arrange for an e-mail transmission of this photo please contact:
Mary Lynn
OSHA Denver area office
(303) 844-5285


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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