A federal investigation has found a Connecticut contractor’s failure to provide legally required safeguards and make sure they were in place to prevent trench collapses contributed to the death of an employee buried when an 8-foot-deep trench caved in.
Investigators with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Botticello Inc. of Manchester exposed workers to deadly hazards as he connected drainage piping at a residential development construction site in Vernon in July 2022. Previously, in November 2015, OSHA inspectors identified four serious violations related to trenching work by Botticello at a Stafford worksite.
As a result of the violations and the employer’s prior knowledge, OSHA cited Botticello for three willful violations and proposed $375,021 in penalties.
The family owned Botticello Inc. provides construction contracting services including site work, rock crushing, stump grinding and demolition. The company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before an independent OSHA review commission.
“After a previous OSHA inspection, Botticello Inc. knew of the dangers of working in an unprotected trench and the need to inspect the trench and ensure required effective cave-in protection was in place before any employee entered the trench. The company, however, still chose to ignore these required safeguards and now a worker’s family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve,” said OSHA Area Director Dale Varney in Hartford, Connecticut.
Specifically, the OSHA citations state that Botticello Inc. failed to: provide the trench with a protective system to prevent it from collapsing and caving in on workers; have a competent person conduct inspections before and during the work to identify and correct any hazardous conditions before employees entered the trench; and ensure the 135-foot-long trench contained sufficient means of egress to allow employees to safely exit.
OSHA’s Varney said that “one cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds – about the weight of a subcompact car – and trench collapses happen in seconds, which helps explain why they are among the construction industry’s most fatal hazards.”
Federal trenching safety standards require protective systems for trenches deeper than five feet, and that soil and other materials be kept at least two feet from the trench’s edge. Trenches must also be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entry and exit before a worker may enter.
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Source By https://www.insurancejournal.com/news/east/2023/02/02/705772.htm