Worker installing drainage killed in trench collapse, feds say. Missouri company cited

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A construction worker was killed in a Missouri trench collapse earlier this year, and authorities say the death might have been prevented if the company followed “trench safety protection measures.”

The pipelayer was in an 8-foot-deep trench to install storm water drainage along Old Highway 60 in Dudley when the trench collapsed on April 8, according to an Oct. 5 news release from the U.S. Department of Labor.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration launched an investigation into the workplace death, officials said. Investigators said they learned Brown Construction Co. Inc. did not use a trench box or shore the trench walls to prevent a collapse.

Authorities said the Dexter-based company also failed to provide a way to leave the 80-foot-long trench.

“It also failed to train employees about excavation hazards and safety precautions and did not have a competent person inspect the trench daily for potential hazards,” according to the news release.

Now Brown Construction Co. faces $58,008 in proposed penalties and four citations connected to “serious violations of federal trenching and excavation standards.”

An employee with Brown Construction Co. said the company does not have a statement regarding the citations or trench collapse.

“A collapse takes just seconds and often ends a life forever,” OSHA area director Bill McDonald, in St. Louis, said in a statement. “Employers are legally responsible for following required safety measures and training workers so they recognize hazards and potentially hazardous situations. Sadly, tragedy has struck again for a worker trapped in a trench, and their family, friends and co-workers are left to grieve.”

In the first half of 2022, OSHA reported 22 worker deaths related to trenching and excavation work. Trench collapses are one of the ”most lethal hazards” in the industry.

Dudley is about 10 miles west of Dexter in the southeast corner of Missouri.

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