Personal Injury

Worker trench collapse death nets contractor $275,000 fine

unsafe trench OSHA photo Worker trench collapse death nets contractor $275,000 fineA Maryland company’s negligence is to blame for a 20-year-old contractor’s on-the-job death while working to clear a clogged water line from a Baltimore city pool, according to the state’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (MOSH), which slapped the company, R.F. Warder Inc., with $275,000 in penalties.

The fatality occurred June 5 during an “urgent” repair to a draining line running from the city pool in Northeast Baltimore in advance of the pool’s opening later that month. Warder was assigned the contract by the city to maintain sewer lines and heating and chilled water systems – contracts that were later suspended following the accident. The worker, Kyle Raymond Hancock, was killed when the trench he was working in collapsed.

U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) rules require that trenches more than five feet deep be reinforced with protective walls and sloped ways out. The trench Hancock was working in was 15 to 18 feet deep, and 10 to 40 feet wide, according to the citation. There were also no ladders or ramps in place for workers to exit the trench.

It took Baltimore Fire Department’s Special Operations Command unit 10 hours to install protective shoring and using hand shovels and other equipment to dig more than 20 feet so they could reach Hancock’s body and remove him from the ditch. Rescue crews also removed from the trench two other employees who had attempted to save Hancock.

Hancock’s death was ruled an accident, but his employer, Warder, was slapped with multiple citations for violations of worker safety, including failing to train crews to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, not conducing adequate inspections of the site, for allowing crews to work in accumulating water, and for not providing workers with protective helmets, or have a protective system in place to protect workers in the event of a cave-in.

Source: The Baltimore Sun