Hurtado Construction Fined in Trench Fatality

March 22, 2024
Trench collapse killed an 18-year-old worker.

Hurtado Construction was found to have willfully disregarded required safety procedures when a 15-foot trench wall collapsed and killed an 18-year-old worker in Fulshear, Texas, in September 2023, according to an investigation by the Occupational Health and Safety Administration.

OSHA has proposed $257,811 in penalties for seven safety citations. One of the citations was noted as “willful”; the other six as “serious.” The willful citation was for allowing employees to work in a trench without adequate protections. The serious citations noted Hurtado’s failures to do the following:

  • Having someone available to render first aid at the Fulshear site.
  • Providing a ladder for a quick escape.
  • Making employees work in an excavation saturated with water. The Fulshear site trench had water in it, which was saturating the soil, according to OSHA.
  • Improperly using a reinforced concrete box as a protective system during excavation work.
  • OSHA also cited Hurtado for not using shields properly. The citation said the shields were not installed flush with the walls of the excavation.

OSHA determined that Hurtado Construction allowed the teenager to work in the excavation without a proper protective system in place to prevent its collapse. The young worker suffered fatal injuries when the trench wall caved in, and tons of dirt pinned him against a reinforced concrete box.

Read also: What is a Protective System for Trenches?

Hurtado had been cited in November 2021 for failing to use an adequate protective system to safeguard employees from a potentially deadly collapse at another excavation worksite in Katy, Texas, according to OSHA, and has a history of workplace safety failures that includes eight OSHA citations for not providing required protective systems after another worker fatality in January 2007.

“Hurtado Construction has routinely ignored its legal responsibility to protect employees’ safety and health,” said Larissa Ipsen, OSHA area director in Houston, in a statement. “The company’s callous disregard has cost a young man his life and left his family, friends, and co-workers to grieve a terrible tragedy under circumstances that were completely preventable.”

About the Author

Rod Sutton

I have served as the editorial lead of Construction Equipment magazine and since 2001. 

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