As paramedics rescued a construction worker trapped under dirt from a trench collapse, his co-worker, 24-year-old Isidro Martinez, was not as fortunate.
Martinez, a husband and father, lost his life in the unprotected trench. Following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency cited Baton Rouge-based Ted Hebert LLC on Nov. 20 for one willful and five serious violations. OSHA cited the willful violation for exposing workers to trench hazards and for failing to provide an adequate protection system, such as a trench box or similar equipment, to keep the trench from collapsing. The inspection took place in May.
The serious violations included the following:
Failing to train workers to recognize unsafe conditions.
Neglecting to have a ladder or other means for workers to exit a trench.
Keeping materials too close to a trench edge.
Allowing water to accumulate inside a trench, which would make a collapse more likely.
Failing to maintain a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical harm.
"There is no excuse for exposing workers to deadly trench collapse hazards," said Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge. "The employer knew what needed to be done, yet a broken trench box lay nearby. Workers had to enter an unsafe trench with no adequate means of keeping the trench from caving in on them."
Citations issued include proposed fines totaling $105,000. Ted Hebert, which specializes in the installation of sewers, water pipes and grading, employs approximately 32 workers.