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Failure to Eliminate Excavation Hazards Resulted in Construction Worker's Drowning

Industry News James Britton

As Davide Nascimento worked on the installation of a sewer line in an excavation on Hazardville Road in Longmeadow, Mass., on July 31, 2015, a portion of roadway above the excavation collapsed and broke a six-inch water main pipe. Water from the pipe filled the excavation rapidly, trapping Nascimento, 28, who drowned.

An inspection by the Springfield Area Office of the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that his employer, Ludlow-based contractor A. Martin & Son Construction Inc., did not protect the water line against damage. The company also did not inspect the excavation for evidence of a situation that could result in a cave-in, such as damage from the previous night's rainstorm that weakened excavation walls.

As a result of its findings, OSHA cited A. Martin & Son Construction on Nov. 9, 2015, for two serious violations of workplace safety standards. Each citation carries a proposed penalty of $7,000, the maximum fine for a serious violation. 

"Employees play a critical role in protecting themselves and their co-workers. They need to know the hazards of performing trenching and excavation operations and understand how they will be protected from those dangers," added Hoye. "While no enforcement action will bring Mr. Nascimento back to his widow, children, friends and colleagues, employers can prevent needless worker deaths and injuries by adhering to fundamental, common-sense and legally required safeguards in every trench and excavation."

A. Martin & Son Construction, which faces proposed fines of $14,000, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The citations can be viewed here.