Fatal Trenching Collapse Leads to OSHA Citation

January 17, 2014

OSHA has cited Municipal District Services LLC, a wastewater treatment and water construction company in Cypress, Texas, for one willful violation after a December 2013 trenching collapse killed one worker and injured another. The penalty totals $63,000.

The company excavated a trench through a concrete road to repair a water main. The trench was 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and 8 to 10 feet deep. Two workers entered the unprotected trench to clean up and cut a broken pipe. After approximately five to 10 minutes inside the trench, the south wall of the excavation caved in.

"Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations, but they can be performed in a safe manner by using proper safety equipment, such as trench boxes, consistently," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director in the Houston North Office.

A willful violation was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection for workers in a trench or excavation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's San Antonio Area Office, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.