The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Sioux Falls excavating contractor for five serious safety violations after a 40-year-old equipment operator suffered severe injuries while working in a 16-foot-deep trench on Oct. 28, 2016. The company faces $40,538 in fines.
According to OSHA, the man was installing sewer lines in Brandon, South Dakota when dirt fell into a trench box in which the man was working and collapsed on him.
OSHA found the company failed to protect employees working in a trench, failed to properly place a ladder used to access the trench box, failed to remove employees from the trench when hazardous conditions were apparent and failed to provide sanitary facilities on the job site.
“Kempf Construction’s failure to adhere to OSHA standards to protect workers in trenches has resulted in debilitating injuries to this man. They will likely affect him and his ability to make a living for the rest of his life. In 2016, more than two dozen workers were injured and at least 22 killed in trenches nationwide. Trench deaths have more than doubled since 2015. This is an alarming trend that must be halted,” said Sheila Stanley, OSHA’s area director in Sioux Falls. “Excavating companies need to re-examine their safety procedures to ensure they are taking all available precautions – including installing trench boxes, shoring and other means to prevent unexpected shifts in the soil that can cause walls to collapse.”