Entrepreneur ignores risk of collapse – SUN News Report
The sidewalls of an unprotected trench can collapse without warning and with great force – crushing and sometimes suffocating workers under tons of dirt and debris – before they can react or escape.
A federal inspection at a Warwick excavation found two contractors in the area ignoring the risks and putting their workers at serious risk.
On July 8, an OSHA inspection of a sewer installation site at 1129 Main Ave. in Warwick determined that employees of Reyes Landscaping Inc. – doing business as Reyes Landscaping & Masonry in Johnston – and TRD Contracting LLC in Greenville were working in a 5 to 8 foot deep trench with no collapse protection .
Adding to the danger, the employer allowed the soil removed from the trench to accumulate at the edge of the trench, causing some material to fall into the trench.
The inspectors also identified the following dangers:
- A competent person – one with the knowledge and authority to identify and correct the hazards – did not inspect the trench before starting work.
- The employees did not have helmets to protect themselves from falling objects.
- Using an improper ladder to enter and exit the trench.
- Use an uninspected and unlabeled alloy steel chain sling to lift objects.
OSHA returned to the job site on July 13 and found Reyes Landscaping had failed to correct the hazards, continuing to put its workers at risk of collapse and collision in a 9-foot-6-inch trench. depth.
As a result, OSHA cited Reyes Landscaping for two willful infractions and five serious infractions, with $ 63,586 in proposed penalties for the hazards seen on both dates.
Separately, the agency cited TRD Contracting for four serious violations, with $ 11,704 in penalties, for the July 8 dangers.
In 2019, trench collapses caused 24 deaths in the construction industry, according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
OSHA’s National Trenches and Excavations Emphasis Program encourages employers to develop and implement safety procedures and train their workers to recognize potentially hazardous situations.