News Release

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Missouri Contractor After Employee Suffers Severe Injuries in Trench Collapse

ST. LOUIS, MO – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Unnerstall Contracting Company LLC for violations of OSHA’s trenching and excavation standards after an employee suffered severe injuries when a 20-foot trench collapsed during excavation of Creve Coeur Sanitary Sewer Trunk in Creve Coeur, Missouri. OSHA cited the Pacific, Missouri-based company for three willful and four serious violations, and faces penalties of $224,459. The agency has placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

OSHA cited the company for failing to utilize adequate trench protective systems, permitting employees to ride in the bucket of hydraulic excavators, and allowing water to accumulate in the floor of the trench. OSHA also cited the employer for failing to provide a safe means of egress from the trench, protect workers from struck-by hazards, and place excavated soil piles an adequate distance from trench edges.

Excavating and trenching operations are among the most hazardous occupations in the construction industry,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald. “A trench collapse can happen in just seconds causing serious injuries just as quickly. Injuries can be prevented when employers train workers on excavation hazards and ensure required protections are in place before workers enter a trench as required by the OSHA standard.”

OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides resources to help employers and employees prevent trench cave-ins by sloping, shoring, or shielding trench walls.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Agency
Occupational Safety & Health Administration
Date
June 29, 2020
Release Number
20-1218-KAN
Contact: Scott Allen
Phone Number
Contact: Rhonda Burke
Phone Number
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