BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – Federal safety authorities who investigated the site of a fatal trench cave-in at a residential construction site in Birmingham have cited a general contractor and subcontractor with a number of safety violations for failing to take the proper measures in protecting their workers.
“If his employer had protected him properly as he worked in a 12-foot-deep trench to connect a new home’s plumbing to the main sewer line, 31-year-old LeDonte McCruter could have returned home at day’s end to spend time with the young nieces and nephews he adored,” the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in a statement about the Aug. 14 cave-in. “Instead, a kind man known for his quick smile died at a Birmingham work site when the trench around him collapsed and buried him alive.”
According to OSHA, it took more than six hours to recover Mr. McCruter, a day laborer, from the trench.
OSHA investigators responded to the scene of the trench cave-in at 1416 24th Street and found that the subcontractor who hired Mr. McCruter did not provide protections to prevent a trench cave-in as federal safety law require. The subcontractor, Joshua Dailey, was cited with one willful and one serious safety violation for the deadly incident.
General contractor Otis Bates and his company Bates Construction also face one serious safety violation for their failure to provide cave-in protection to employees working in a trench.
Recognizing that excavation work is among the most hazardous construction operations, OSHA has established federal safety rules requiring all trenches and excavation sites five feet deep or more be protected to prevent the walls from collapsing in on top of workers. Protection must be provided by shoring the trench walls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle, or by using a protective trench box.