Mississippi Plumbing Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Excavation Hazards after Fatal Trench Collapse

Excavation Hazards

TAYLOR, MS – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Rhobina Electric Inc. – a commercial electrical and plumbing contractor based in Batesville, Mississippi – for exposing employees to excavation hazards. The contractor is facing $37,318 in penalties.

The citation follows a trench collapse at a Taylor, Mississippi worksite, where an employee suffered fatal injuries. According to OSHA, the employee was installing a sewer pipe to a new concrete manhole when the collapse occurred. OSHA has cited the company for:

  • Allowing employees to work in a trench without hard hats and cave-in protection;
  • Failing to remove workers from a trench that showed signs of water intrusion and possible collapse; and
  • Failing to meet the reporting requirement, which mandates that employers notify OSHA within eight hours of any incident involving an employee fatality.

OSHA Area Director Courtney Bohannon, in Jackson, Mississippi explained that "this tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had followed the law and sloped, shored or shielded the trench walls to prevent a collapse. Before allowing workers to enter a trench, employers are required to install proper safety measures.

OSHA recently updated its National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching operations. OSHA’s Trenching and Excavation webpage also provides valuable information regarding trenching hazards and appropriate protective measures.

Rhobina Electric Inc. has 15 business days to appeal against these citations and penalties.

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Published on: January 17, 2020