Department of Labor investigation of fatal trench collapse in Brazoria County finds contractor failed to follow federal excavation safety measures
HOUSTON – A Houston-area contractor’s repeated failure to follow federal workplace safety procedures during excavation operations contributed to a worker’s death near Manvel in October 2022, a federal workplace safety investigation has found.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that R Construction Civil LLC allowed two employees to work in an excavation without sloping or using a protective system to prevent the 25-foot trench’s collapse. The fatal injury occurred when one of the workers was pinned against a mechanical compactor and the trench wall caved in.
“R Construction Civil LLC failed to meet its legal responsibility and it cost a worker their life,” explained OSHA Area Director Mark Briggs in Houston. “The company could have prevented this tragedy by following well-known safety measures meant to protect workers from this very hazard.”
OSHA issued two repeat citations for not having means to exit the excavation, failing to keep spoil piles at least 2 feet away from the excavation’s edge, and for using an inadequate protective system inside the excavation to protect workers from cave-ins. The agency also issued one serious citation for not inspecting the excavation daily, as required.
Headquartered in Buffalo, Texas, R Construction Civil LLC is a construction contractor providing heavy civil construction from water, sewage, drainage and site work. The company also has locations in Houston and Floresville.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its 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.