US Department of Labor finds contractor exposed workers to trench hazards after investigation into 23-year-old worker’s fatality in Aurora
AURORA, CO – In late December 2022, an unprotected trench at an Aurora residential worksite collapsed and fatally injured a 23-year-old employee, a tragedy that a Brighton sewer and water contractor could have prevented by using required protections against a leading cause of industry deaths.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Coronado Excavation of Sewer and Water Repairs LLC exposed its workers to an unprotected trench at an Eastman Drive worksite. The collapse occurred while employees installed residential pipes and their employer failed to use adequate protective systems in the trench as required by law. Fire and rescue workers later recovered the deceased worker.
In addition to identifying the employer’s failure to provide trench protection, OSHA found Coronado Excavation had not trained workers on trenching and excavation hazards and did not protect them from excavated material falling into the trench nor did they provide safe access to and from the trench. The company faces $112,508 in proposed penalties.
“Every worker has a right to be protected from hazards like a trench collapse,” said OSHA Area Director Chad Vivian in Englewood, Colorado. “Coronado Excavation of Sewer and Water Repair’s disregard of well-known safety protections for excavation has left a young man’s family, friends and co-workers to grieve his needless suffering and loss of life, which the employer could have prevented by following the law.”
Based in Brighton, Coronado Excavation of Sewer and Water Repair LLC is a locally owned and operated business that provides water and sewer line cleaning, repairs and installations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citation 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.
OSHA has a National Emphasis Program on trenching and excavations. Trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of a trench. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a knowledgeable person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting before allowing a worker to enter.