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Pipe installer fined for worker death in trench collapse

Posted On: Feb. 13, 2019 1:51 PM CST

Pipe installation trench

A pipe installation contractor received a $242,600 fine from the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health after a worker died when a trench built for a storm drain project collapsed.

In a statement released Wednesday, Cal/OSHA accused Platinum Pipeline Inc., based in Livermore, California, of committing willful-serious safety violations by instructing employees to continue grading the bottom of a trench without providing any protection, even after it identified the soil as unstable.

On July 27, 2018, Platinum Pipeline employees were digging trenches to install two storm drain pipes at a residential construction site in Daly City, California. According to Cal/OSHA, one of the sides of the trench was not sloped properly to prevent cave-ins because of concerns that a nearby utility pole might fall. After a crack was observed in that wall, Cal/OSHA said two workers were instructed to proceed, but the 14-foot high excavation wall collapsed, fatally crushing one of the workers.

Cal/OSHA cited the company for 10 violations, including two willful-serious accident-related charges for failure to ensure that no employees were in the trench until an adequate protective system was in place and for failing to remove the workers after hazards were observed. The other citations included five serious violations for failure to secure the utility pole and address various excavation hazards, and three general violations.

Platinum Pipeline declined to comment.