June trench fatality brings citations to victim’s employer

Emergency crews were called to the a collapsed trench in Centerville Wednesday. (WDTN Photo/Mike Burianek)

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – James Rogers’ June death has become part of a grim statistic for trench-collapse-related deaths, according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

Rogers was digging soil out of the 12-foot trench in Washington Township, when the trench walls around him collapsed – burying him in thousands of pounds of dirt, ten feet underground. Rescue workers recovered his body seven hours later.

Emergency crews were called around 2 p.m. to the corner of Marshall Road and Claxton Glen Court in Washington Township for the accident.

READ MORE: Victim identified in trench collapse in Washington Township

Rogers is one of 23 workers killed and 12 others who reported injuries in trench collapses in 2016, according to the Department of Labor. “One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 lbs. – the weight of a small automobile – giving a worker in a trench little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse.”

Trench deaths have more than doubled nationwide since last year, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

“The employee was part of a crew installing a sewer line at a residential home under construction in the 400 block of Claxton Glen Court. The agency’s investigation found earlier that same day, a portion of the trench had collapsed and the worker was able to escape. Agency inspectors also learned the same worker was involved in a trench collapse about a month earlier at another construction site, because trench cave-in protection was not provided, leading OSHA to open a separate investigation in October 2016,” according to the U.S. Department of Labor.

“This man’s life could have been saved by following OSHA’s safety standards that require cave-in protection in a trench more than 5-feet deep,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “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. Soil and other materials must also be kept at least two feet from the edge of trench to prevent the spoils from falling back into the open trench.”

While investigating the fatality OSHA found KRW Plumbing:

  • Did not provide trench cave-in protection.
  • Failed to protect workers from excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench walls.
  • Failed to trained workers in recognizing trench hazards.

Proposed penalties total $274,359. View citations for June inspection here, and October inspection here.

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