JK Excavating & Utilities Inc., of Mason, Ohio, was slapped with more than $202,000 in penalties and placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after an employee fell to his death during a trench collapse.
An OSHA investigation found that employees of the company at a residential construction site in Morrow, Ohio, were working in trenches up to 16 feet deep without adequate cave-in protections. JK Excavating & Utilities was cited for failing to use protective systems to prevent a cave-in; implement methods to remove accumulating water; properly use ladders to enter and exit the trench; prevent employees from working beneath a suspended trench box; ensure employees wear hard hats; and make provisions for prompt medical attention in the event of an injury.
OHSA Cincinnati Area Office Director Ken Montgomery said the accident could have been avoided had the employer installed required protective systems to prevent a trench cave-in. “A trench can collapse in seconds, burying works under the weight of thousands of pounds of soil.”
The company was given 15 business days to comply to the citations and penalties, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings.
Earlier this year, a national worker safety watchdog group listed JK Excavating & Utilities among its “dirty dozen” companies that puts workers and communities in danger with unsafe workplace practices. The company made the list after a 25-year-old man was buried alive on the job, and for being cited three previous times by OSHA for failure to protect workers from trench collapse.