OSHA investigating deadly trench collapse

Local News

SUGARCREEK TOWNSHIP, Ohio (WDTN) – The Department of Labor said an OSHA investigation has been launched into Payne Enterprises after a man died at a budding housing development in Sugarcreek Township.

That man, Dalbert Burton, was digging a trench for a sewage line Saturday afternoon, when it collapsed and left him buried eight feet deep for up to four hours, according to Michael Guadano, the coordinator for the rescue and strike team who responded.

A nearby homeowner said another neighbor noticed a running piece of equipment, but saw no one manning it.

The homeowner’s son drove over there and said he saw a man lying facedown, buried in the ditch.

Guadano said in the past five years, they have responded to about four trench collapses.

But according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, excavation and trench-related fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous five years nationwide.

In a release to 2NEWS, it said to prevent cave-ins, according to OSHA, workers need to SLOPE trench walls, SHORE trench walls with supports, or SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes.

Employers should also ensure there is a safe way to enter and exit the trench. 

Guadagno said when recovery crews arrived, that is not what they saw.

“The trench walls were not sloped, the end of the trench was sloped,” said Guadano. “The trench walls themselves were fully intact. None of the trench walls were shored, no trench boxes in or around the site.”

Guadano added he knows these residential construction sites can be enticing to kids to play around, but he urges parents to warn children of the dangers.

“It is a very dangerous site, it’s a very dynamic site,” said Guadano. “Things can change in just a few seconds, so make sure everyone stays clear of all that stuff.”

Scott Allen, with the Department of Labor, said they will not release any further information until the investigation is complete, which could take up to six months.

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