Thursday, November 17, 2016

KRW Plumbing LLC, did not provide trench cave-in protection for its employees; a 33-year-old employee was crushed to death in June 2016 as he was digging soil out of the 12-foot trench in Washington Township, OHIO

November 17, 2016

Ohio worker's death highlights grim 2016 national stat:
trench collapse fatalities have more than doubled
OSHA cites 33-year-old man's employer for willful, serious safety violations

WASHINGTON TOWNSHIP, Ohio - OSHA cited an Ohio company after a 33-year-old employee was crushed to death in June 2016 as he 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. Rescue workers recovered his body a few hours later.

He is one of 23 workers killed, and 12 others who reported injuries in trench collapses in 2016. Trench collapses are rarely survivable. 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 - an alarming and unacceptable trend that must be halted," said Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. "There is no excuse. These fatalities are completely preventable by complying with OSHA standards that every construction contractor should know."

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found his employer, KRW Plumbing LLC, did not provide trench cave-in protection for its employees. OSHA cited the company for two willful and two serious safety violations on Nov. 8, 2016, after the agency completed its investigation into the June 15, 2016, death and a subsequent investigation opened in October 2016.

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.

"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.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least two feet from the edge of trench.

Based in Jamestown, KRW Plumbing has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Cincinnati office at 513-841-4132.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Charges possible in trench death
Report: Owner ‘did not tell the truth’ about hole where worker died.

By Mark Gokavi - Staff Writer 

Updated: 5:39 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2016 | Posted: 12:56 p.m. Friday, June 17, 2016

The employer of the man killed Wednesday after a trench collapsed on him initially “did not tell the truth” about the hole’s depth and could face criminal charges, county records show.

The body of KRW Plumbing worker James Rogers was recovered several hours after a trench he was in collapsed at a Washington Twp. construction site early Wednesday afternoon.

A Montgomery County Sheriff’s Office report obtained by the Dayton Daily News on Friday indicates KRW Plumbing’s owner initially told deputies the trench on Claxton Glen Court was seven feet deep.

When Occupational Safety and Health Administration representatives arrived, Rick Williams of KRW “admitted the trench was 12 feet deep,” according to sheriff’s office records.

The report also states OSHA investigators would present their findings to the Department of Justice for possible criminal charges against Williams “due to lack of proper safety precautions at the job site.”

The report did not specify what the safety precautions involved. A trench five feet or deeper requires a protective system unless the excavation is made entirely in stable rock, according to OSHA.

Attempts to contact Williams on Friday were unsuccessful. An OHSA official in Cincinnati said Friday she was not aware of the sheriff’s office report but would seek to obtain a copy.

OSHA Assistant Area Director Gaye Johnson referred further inquiries to the Department of Labor in Chicago. OSHA’s investigation could take up to six months, said Scott Allen, that department’s director of public affairs.

“It won’t be just about this incident,” he said. “We’ll look at the company and try to determine if all of the (OSHA) standards and regulations” are met.

Allen said “OSHA would consider forwarding a recommendation for criminal charges if the violations were willful and egregious.”

Rogers, 33, of Winchester in south central Ohio, was laying piping in the trench made of hard-packed clay at 463 Claxton Glen near Marshall Road when the collapse happened shortly before 2 p.m. Wednesday.

More than two dozen safety vehicles responded from multiple jurisdictions, and a portion of Marshall Road was closed for hours. Dozens of police and fire personnel responded before his body was recovered shortly after 9 p.m., said Bill Gaul, Washington Twp. fire chief.

Rogers was working in the trench dug by Williams on a new home construction site when the company owner saw dirt from the sides of the hole had collapsed, burying Rogers, according to the sheriff’s office report.

“Williams immediately screamed out loud and ran to the trench and began digging with a shovel in an attempt to free Rogers,” the report states. “Williams said he heard ‘groaning’ from Rogers, but Rogers was unable to speak.”

KRW worker Ron Ison Jr., who had been dumping gravel in the trench to properly place sewer pipe, heard Williams scream and began helping him dig to free Rogers, the report indicates.

Ison said he continued digging until Washington Twp. fire officials told him to stop “as it was too dangerous to continue digging in the unstable trench,” according to the report.

The trench was one of the deepest the regional technical rescue team has encountered, its coordinator, Washington Twp. Fire Capt. Michael Guadagno has said. The rescue team’s equipment is only made for trenches eight feet deep, and he has said the team had to custom build shoring while on site.

Rescue personnel could not recover the body until shortly after 9 p.m., when they found it about 10.5 feet down, according to the report.