OSHA Investigation Following Deadly Texas Trench Collapse

by | Dec 27, 2022 | Construction Accident, Wrongful Death

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (“OSHA”) has completed its investigation into the deadly trench collapse in Jarrell, Texas on June 28, 2022. OSHA’s investigation found “WBW Construction LLC willfully violated federal law when they failed to have a trench protective system in place and did not provide an exit point within 25 feet inside a trench.”  During the incident, two workers were killed when the trench they were in collapsed on them.

The OSHA investigation found that WBW Construction did not follow required safety standards. Following the investigation, OSHA issued multiple citations, for the failure to follow federal standards, including:

  • 29 CFR 1926.20(b)(2): The employer did not initiate and maintain a safety program which provides for frequent and regular inspections of jobsites, materials, and equipment to be made by a competent person.
  • 29 CFR 1926.50(c): A person who has a valid certificate of first-aid training was not available at the worksite to render first-aid.
  • 29 CFR 1926.651(h)(1): Employees were working in excavations in which there was accumulated water, or excavations in which water was accumulating, and adequate precautions had not been taken to protect employees against the hazards posed by water accumulation.
  • 29 CFR 1926.1053(a)(7): Ladders not specifically designed for such use were tied or fastened together to provide longer sections.
  • 29 CFR 1926.651(c)(2): A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress was not located in trench excavations that were 4 feet (1.22m) or more in depth so as to require no more than 25 feet (7.62m) of lateral travel for employees.
  • 29 CFR 1926.652(a)(1):Each employee in an excavation was not protected from cave-ins by an adequate protective system designed in accordance with paragraph (b) or (c) of this section.

Construction workers put their lives at risk in a dangerous industry every single day.  Ultimately, many incidents could have been prevented had federal regulations been followed.  Workers face risks and hazards that must be adequately discussed and planned for before work begins.  Every worker involved in the project must know what is required to safely perform the task.  It is more than merely having a written down procedure, companies must ensure that their workers understand and follow what has been developed.

Here, two workers were killed as a result of the failures identified by the OSHA investigation.  OSHA provides excavation and trenching guidelines which should have been followed on the date of the incident.  OSHA has also issued instruction for companies to use in order to ensure that minimum standards are followed.  OSHA explains:

Because of the continuing incidence of trench/excavation collapses and accompanying loss of life, the agency has determined that these worksites continue to warrant an increased enforcement presence. OSHA has long maintained that employees exposed to potential cave-ins must be protected before the excavation face is in imminent danger of collapse, because OSHA believes that there is a potential for a collapse in virtually all excavations.

There has been a significant increase in trenching accidents.  According to OSHA, in the first six months of 2022, twenty-two people were killed in trenching related accidents.  Tragically, all of these accidents could have been prevented had federal regulations been followed.

Our experienced lawyers have handled personal injury and wrongful death lawsuits of all kinds and have the skills needed to represent the families of loved ones who have lost their lives or those who have been seriously injured in a trenching or excavation accident.  The experienced construction personal injury and wrongful death attorneys at Spagnoletti Law Firm can help you understand your rights if you or a loved one was a victim of an accident.

Our lawyers have represented numerous workers who have sustained serious and catastrophic injuries on a job site as a result of the negligence of another party.  There are strict and short time limits on making claims, so please contact us online or call 713-804-9306 or 877-678-5864 to learn more about your legal rights.

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