RC Structures Fined in Trench Deaths

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Trench safety sign.

RC Structures will pay $135,612 in penalties stemming from the collapse of an approximately 30-foot deep trench in Oyster Bay that led to the deaths of two workers, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

RC Structures is a superstructure, foundation, and concrete company headquartered in Roslyn, New York.

OSHA found that the company did not provide a protective system to prevent a trench collapse and did not remove the employees from the trench after a competent person employed by the company had identified a cave-in hazard. OSHA also found the trench lacked an adequate ladder or other safe means of exit and that the company allowed stacked concrete and excavated materials to be stored at the trench’s edge.

In addition, employees working adjacent to and beneath an operating excavator lacked head protection, exposing them to struck-by hazards.

OSHA cited RC Structures for willful and serious violations in July 2020, and the company contested its citations to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

“A trench can collapse suddenly and with great force, crushing and burying workers in an instant. Amid such dangerous conditions, employers must follow all excavation safety requirements and remove employees to prevent tragedies like this,” said OSHA Long Island Area Director Kevin Sullivan in a prepared statement.

RC Structures agreed to pay the penalties and certify that it will no longer dig excavations. The agreement also commits the company to do the following:

  • Develop an excavation safety checklist to identify hazards and protective measures for work in excavations and ensure that a competent person on site will consult and complete the checklist whenever employees enter excavations.
  • Engage a qualified professional safety and health consultant to conduct at least one on-site assessment of excavation safety while employees are performing work in an excavation.
  • Provide company-wide training on ladder safety and hardhat use to its employees.

Source: OSHA