WILLOUGHBY, OH (WOIO) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's Cleveland office has opened an investigation after four employees were buried in a trench collapse near Willoughby Wednesday morning.
Willoughby police say it happened around 11:15 a.m. on Colonial Rd., off of SR 91.
According to the police chief, four Domenick Electric Sewer Cleaning Company Inc. workers were in a 10 foot deep trench with sheer walls and no visible trench box when the trench collapsed. Two of the employees were air-lifted to the hospital while the others were treated at the scene.
"This tragic incident is a reminder of how quickly a trench can become a death trap and potentially bury a worker under thousands of pounds of soil," said Danelle L. Jindra, OSHA's acting area director in Cleveland.
OSHA's trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet and that soil and other materials are kept at least two feet from the edge of trench. Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 lbs., about the weight of small automobile. Trenching and excavation are among the most dangerous construction activities, and cave-ins are often lethal to workers crushed or suffocated by thousands of pounds of soil and rock.
The homeowner was getting a sanitation pipe replaced when the collapse occurred.
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