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Trench death leads to safety citations for utility company

Posted On: May. 29, 2018 9:12 AM CST

Trench death leads to safety citations for utility company

Federal workplace safety regulators have cited a utility company and proposed $162,596 in fines after an employee suffered fatal injuries at a Florida work site.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration said an employee of Ann Arbor, Michigan-based Douglas N. Higgins Inc. working at a site in Naples, Florida, suffered fatal injuries when a steel plate fell on him as he installed sewer lines, according to a May 22 statement.

OSHA cited the company for permitting employees to work in a trench without adequate cave-in protection, failing to provide safe entry and exit from a trench and to perform atmospheric testing and train employees on signals used when moving trench boxes, and allowing employees to use defective equipment to hoist a compactor, according to the statement.

The agency cited the company for a similar violation in January 2017 after three employees died from exposure to toxic gases while working in a manhole, according to the statement. 

“Employers have a responsibility to ensure a working environment free from recognized hazards,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA Fort Lauderdale area office director, said in the statement. “This company’s continued failure to protect and train their employees on well-known hazards resulted in another preventable tragedy.”

A company spokesperson could not be immediately reached for comment.