Company Responsible for Trench Collapse that Killed Construction WorkerJanuary 2, 2019
A 20-year-old construction worker was tragically killed in November when a trench collapsed as he was trying to clear a clogged water line at a local city pool. Investigators found that the 15-foot hole surrounding the sewer lines had not been properly shored up, which caused the trench to cave-in.
Unfortunately, the Baltimore City Fire Department and other workers on site were unable to rescue the worker. The Maryland Occupational Safety and Health Agency (MOSH) found that the HVAC company performing the work committed multiple serious safety violations, which jeopardized the safety of the crew, risking accidents and injuries and costing one worker his life.
Circumstances of the Accident
The work crew was assigned to clear the lines at the Clifton Park Pool, in preparation for the pool to open for the season. Investigators found that the trench had not been properly shored up. Trenches that are more than five feet deep must have adequate shoring, including protective walls and sloped ways out.
The trench at the Clifton Park pool was up to 18 feet deep, over three times deeper. After the trench collapsed, the rescue team had to dig through 20 feet of dirt before they were able to remove the worker’s body from the ditch. State inspectors also found that the crew did not have the necessary helmets, ladders, or ramps that would help them exit the trench.
As the rescue team tried to save the worker who was trapped, they removed two other workers who were trying to dig through the dirt to save their co-worker. In order to reach the victim, the Baltimore Fire Department’s Special Operations Command unit had to install protective shoring. Then they had to dig 20 feet down using hand shovels and other equipment, before they were finally able to remove the worker’s body, as they did not reach him in time to save his life.
Penalties for Unsafe Work Conditions
MOSH works to improve the health and safety of workers in the public and private sectors. In response to the June 5th trench collapse, MOSH proposed that the HVAC company pay $275,000 in penalties for failing to properly train the crew on how to recognize and avoid potential safety hazards. The company also failed to conduct daily inspections of the site.
Overall, MOSH cited the HVAC company with eight violations, several of which were considered willful. This means that the HVAC company knowingly jeopardized the safety of its workers by failing to follow or enforce safety rules. The lack of training also put the workers at risk, and was the violation that got the largest fine of $122,000.
The failure to conduct daily inspections was another violation that resulted in a $30,500 fine. This could have prevented the trench collapse – and the tragic fatality – if they were able to identify areas were the trench was not secure.
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Advocate for Victims of Workplace Hazards
If you have been seriously injured at work due to an unsafe work environment, do not hesitate to contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. Your employer has a responsibility to ensure that your work environment is free of hazards that can cause life-threatening, or fatal injuries. We will secure the maximum financial benefits that you are entitled to receive. To schedule a free consultation, call us today at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.