March 2021 Enforcement

OSHA alleges MO plumbing contractor exposed worker to unprotected trench despite agreement


Two years after Arrow Plumbing LLC agreed to adopt a comprehensive trench safety program following the December 2016 death of an employee in an unprotected trench, federal inspectors responding to a complaint in August 2020 found another of the company’s employees working at least 7-feet below ground in an unprotected trench in Grain Valley.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the Oak Grove contractor for two repeated and two serious violations of trenching standards, and proposed total penalties of $299,590. OSHA alleges the contractor failed to provide basic safeguards against trench collapse, such as a trench box or shoring material, and exposed an employee working in a trench to unsecured electrical and gas lines. The agency also alleges the company allowed an employee to work in a trench without head protection while exposed to overhead struck-by hazards.

“After a fatal trench collapse led to an employee’s death, Arrow Plumbing’s owner signed a settlement agreement with OSHA in September 2018, in which he agreed to put in place a comprehensive trench safety program,” explained OSHA Regional Administrator Kimberly Stille, in Kansas City. “Yet, Arrow Plumbing failed to implement the agreement. Employers must follow appropriate trench safety procedures and protect workers from the serious and sometimes fatal dangers of working in unprotected trenches.”

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