The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has announced an investigation into a cave-in incident that killed the owner of Krepline Trucking & Excavating Inc. from Appleton, Wis.
According to OSHA’s Rhonda Burke, 46-year-old Scott A. Krepline was working in a trench by himself in Kaukauna, Wis., on the afternoon of Nov. 10 when the walls surrounding him collapsed inward. Although emergency responders attempted to get to him in time, Krepline was pronounced dead at the scene.
“Preliminary reports indicate that the company was trenching and installing sewer line between new storage unit locations and an existing commercial business when the side walls of the trench collapsed,” Burke said in an email to Post-Crescent Media.
Burke also added the company had no prior history of OSHA violations, although Krepline was found to not be utilizing any cave-in protection at the scene.
“OSHA is looking into this tragic incident,” said OSHA spokesman Scott Allen. “OSHA extends its sincere condolences to the family.”
Cave-ins such as the one that killed Krepline are preventable, but they are still responsible for dozens of deaths and hundreds of injuries annually. In order to help prevent these types of injuries and deaths, OSHA has established standards for the construction industry that must be followed to address trenching and excavation hazards.
There are two different types of trenches that require cave-in protection. The first is a trench more than five feet deep but less than 20 feet deep. These are fairly standard at construction sites. Secondly there are trenches that are more than 20 feet deep. These require more intricate cave-in protection, and are usually designed by a professional engineer. These designs are created with safety in mind and use specific data to target danger points.
Some features of cave-in protection include sloping the trench wall away from the excavation site, using trench boxes, installation of supports that prevent soil movement, and the creation of safe access and exits with ladders, steps and ramps.
For more information on cave-in protection and trenching, visit OSHA’s webpage on the topic at https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/construction.html.