OSHA: Aqua Ohio cited in deadly trench collapse

Construction worker killed in trench collapse in Mentor
Worker dies in collapse trench (Source: WOIO)
Worker dies in collapse trench (Source: WOIO)

MENTOR, OH (WOIO) - Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Aqua Ohio Tuesday in the deadly trench collapse that killed a 28-year-old employee in March.

Alexander J. Marcotte was in the process of widening Heisley Road from two lanes to four between Mentor Avenue and Jackson Street, when the water and sewer utility worker was buried beneath thousands of pounds of soil.

The more than five-feet deep trench collapsed on him. Marcotte died a few hours later.

"This young man's death was preventable. It is unacceptable that Aqua Ohio again risked the lives of its employees in an unprotected trench," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "The company knows cave-in protection is required in a trench more than 5-feet deep, but their failure to comply cost a man his life."

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found Aqua Ohio Inc., did not provide trench cave-in protection for its employees. OSHA cited the company for one repeated and five serious safety violations on June 6, 2016, after the agency completed its investigation into the March 29, 2016 death.

This is the second time OSHA has cited the water and sewer utility company for putting its employees at risk in unprotected trenches. In November 2013, the agency cited Aqua Ohio for a similar violation at a job site in Ashtabula and fined the company in January 2014.

While investigating the fatality OSHA also found Aqua Ohio:

  • Failed to trained workers in recognizing trench hazards.
  • Did not provide trench cave-in protection.
  • Failed to protect workers from excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench walls.
  • Did not have a competent person make worksite inspections.

Proposed penalties total $44,800. Aqua Ohio has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply.

Trenching and excavation work are among the construction industry's most dangerous jobs and, each year hundreds of workers in unprotected trenches are crushed or suffocated.

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