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OSHA cites company for trench collapse that killed Warren County worker

Posted at 3:33 PM, Jun 22, 2018
and last updated 2018-06-22 15:33:28-04

LEBANON, Ohio -- The federal government cited the excavating company whose employee was killed in a trench collapse in Morrow last year. 

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed penalties totaling $202,201 for JK Excavating & Utilities Inc. One of the company's employees, 25-year-old Zachary Hess of Mason, was killed after a trench he was working in collapsed on Dec. 28. 

OSHA investigators found that employees had been working in trenches up to 16 feet deep without adequate cave-in protection, the agency announced Friday. They cited JK Excavating for failing to use protective systems to prevent a cave-in, failing to implement methods to remove accumulating water, failing to properly use ladders to enter and exit the trench, failing to prevent employees from working beneath a suspending trench box, failing to ensure employees wore hard hats and failing to make provisions for prompt medical attention in the event of injury.

"A trench can collapse in seconds, burying workers under the weight of thousands of pounds of soil," said Ken Montgomery, the OSHA Cincinnati area office director. "This tragedy was preventable, and could have been avoided if the employer had installed required protective systems to prevent a trench cave-in."

It took about 150 first responders several hours to recover Hess from the collapsed trench, deputies previously said. 

The company has 15 days from receiving the citations to respond, either by complying, requesting a conference or contesting the findings.

JK Excavating has been cited for trench hazards before, according to OSHA records. The company paid $5,850 for two "serious" violations that occurred in July 2014 at a Hamilton subdivision. One of those violations was related to a lack of adequate protection against cave-ins.