The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Midwest Excavating LLC for exposing employees to trench cave-in hazards at a job site in Sioux Falls, South Dakota. The company faces penalties of $58,343.

OSHA initiated an inspection of the jobsite after receiving a complaint of employees allegedly working in an inadequately protected trench. Inspectors determined that there was a potential for a trench collapse due to the presence of water, vertical walls, and a depth greater than 7 feet. OSHA cited Midwest Excavating of Sioux Falls for one willful and one serious citation for failing to protect employees from cave-in hazards.

“OSHA regulations require the use of trench protective systems in all trenches deeper than 5 feet,” says Sheila Stanley, the OSHA Sioux Falls area director. “Employers can prevent a cave-in by sloping, shoring or shielding trench walls.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The page includes a trenching operations QuickCard on protecting workers around trenches, and the “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses.The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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