After a months-long investigation into the incident, OSHA said it was issuing seven cita-tions for alleged "willful violations" for failing to provide cave-in protections on seven separate days. The agency also identified five alleged "serious violations" involving trench safety, personal protective equipment and overhead power lines. OSHA inspectors found that unprotected employees were allowed to work in unshored, unsloped trenches in unstable soil. Trenching safety requirements had previously been discussed with company officials, including the project foreman, during a February 2004 inspection, according to OSHA.


"Strong enforcement is a key part of this administration’s efforts to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths," Labor Secretary Elaine L. Chao said in a statement. "This tragic death could have been avoided."

Based in North Fayette, Pa., the firms have 15 days from the Dec. 1 announcement to appeal the ruling. Wagner officials could not be reached for comment.

To underscore its commitment to preventing accidents at trenching and excavation sites, OSHA and the National Utility Contractors Association Dec. 6 signed an alliance that will emphasize education. NUCA training materials, in English and Spanish, will be reviewed by OSHA staff. NUCA and OSHA also will develop educational programs on trench and excavation safety, fact sheets and compliance assistance cards.

wo Pittsburgh companies could face $382,875 in penalties by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration following a June trench fatality. Federal officials say Wagner Development Co. Inc. and Wagner Excavation Services Inc. ignored prior warnings about safety hazards. The firms had rented a trench box but failed to use it prior to a cave-in that killed one employee and injured another worker at the Trinity Park Storm Water project in North Franklin Township, Pa.