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Contractor faces $105,000 in fines after worker killed in trench collapse

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A Louisiana excavating contractor is facing $105,000 in proposed fines from federal safety regulators after a trench collapse that killed a 24-year-old employee.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Baton Rouge, Louisiana-based Ted Hebert L.L.C. last week for one willful violation for exposing workers to trench hazards and for failing to provide an adequate protection system to keep the trench from collapsing, according to a news release issued by the agency on Thursday.

The company, which installs sewers, water pipes and grading, was also issued citations for serious violations, including neglecting to have a ladder or other way for workers to exit a trench and allowing water to accumulate inside a trench, which increases the chances of a collapse, according to the agency.

Isidro Martinez died in the trench collapse in May while a colleague was rescued, according to OSHA.

“There is no excuse for exposing workers to deadly trench collapse hazards,” Dorinda Folse, OSHA's area director in Baton Rouge, said in a statement. “The employer knew what needed to be done yet a broken trench box lay nearby. Workers had to enter an unsafe trench with no adequate means of keeping the trench from caving in on them.”

A company spokesman could not be reached immediately for comment.