In October of last year two workers were killed in Boston, MA when the trench they were working in collapsed and broke a fire hydrant supply line which filled the trench with water. Their employer has been cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for failing to provide safety training to their workers to identify and try to avoid cave-in hazards. They also failed to provide safeguards against trench collapses.
Atlantic Drain Service Co. Inc. was cited for 18 various willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations. OSHA proposed $1,475,813 in penalties. The owner of the company was indicted for two counts of manslaughter by a Suffolk County grand jury but has pleaded not guilty.
They received serious violations for failing to regularly inspect the job site to identify hazards, failing to provide workers with safety equipment to protect their eyes and face, failing to equip grinding machines with necessary safety guards and exposing workers to hazards, failing to use ladders that were more than three feet above the entrance of the trench and failing to inspect those ladders for defects, and for having employees carry heavy or awkward loads coming up or down the ladders that may have made them fall.
They received willful violations for failing to submit incident records in a timely manner, for failing to train workers to recognize cave-in hazards so that they could potentially stop an unsafe situation, failing to utilize proper support systems for the trench walls, failing to cut the trench at a safe angle (the trench where workers were killed had straight cut walls), and for failing to use a ladder or have another way of getting out of a trench that was more than four feet deep so that employees wouldn’t have to travel more than 25 feet anywhere in the trench to get out (it was twelve feet deep).
They were given a repeat citation for failing to protect employees with hardhats. They received another repeat violation for failing to support sidewalks or curbs to prevent them from collapsing under employees. They were given several other repeat citations for failing to follow manufacturer recommendations on certain pieces of equipment and protective equipment.
The fines are significant, but the deaths of the two workers may have been prevented had the employer taken the proper steps ahead of time to ensure their safety.