Three Florida Contractors Fined Total of $131K for Trench Violations

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Three Florida Contractors Fined Total of $131K for Trench Violations

Three Jacksonville contractors have been cited for a total of $131,000 by the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration for trench safety violations.

Workers from Aquino Construction were in an 8-foot-deep, 9-foot-wide, and 55-foot-long unprotected trench to install casing around an existing sewer line, according to OSHA.

Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards, and have a safe means of entering and exiting before allowing a worker to enter. 

“Trenching hazards are well known throughout the construction industry and fatal accidents can occur in the blink of an eye,” said Scott Tisdale OSHA area office director in Jacksonville, Florida. 

Trenches are among the industry’s most lethal hazards. Unsafe trenching led to 39 construction workers suffering fatal injuries in 2022.

“Supervisors and owners of companies that send workers into trenches while bypassing live-saving precautions show a willful indifference to placing their employees in life-threatening situations,” Tisdale said, noting that fortunately, the hazards at this jobsite were corrected before a cave-in occurred.

According to OSHA records, the trench at the jobsite lacked any shoring or a trench box to prevent any cave-ins.

While on the scene, the investigator observed a superintendent from the general contractor, KBT Contracting Corp. standing on the trench’s edge. In addition, the owner of Darmick LLC was in an excavator watching the employees working, according to OSHA.

Per the investigation, no protection from a cave-in such as shoring, sloping, or other protective means while working in a trench of that depth was utilized.

All three employers were issued fines for one willful violation each for exposing employees to cave-in hazards by failing to shore up the trench or use a protective system. In addition, each company was fined for a serious violation for placing spoil piles on the leading edge of the trench, exposing workers to struck-by hazards.

OSHA proposed $65,182 in penalties for KBT Contracting Corp. and $33,261 in proposed penalties each to Aquino Construction and Darmick.

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