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'Little chance of survival': Texas company fined $250K after fatal trench collapse

East Waco Hotel Dig
Posted at 5:58 PM, Jan 18, 2023
and last updated 2023-01-18 23:50:56-05

GEORGETOWN, Texas — A Texas construction company has been found guilty of giving two workers "little chance of survival" in a fatal trench collapse, officials said.

WBW Construction LLC, based in Georgetown, Texas, is now facing a fine of $250,272 for "failing to follow required workplace safety standards," according to the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

Officials said on June 28, 2022, two workers had been installing sewer lines in an underground trench in Jarrell, Texas.

More than two stories underground, officials said a large section of the excavation collapsed, crushing the workers under thousands of pounds of rocks and soil.

The federal investigation has since determined the Georgetown company "failed to have a trench protective system in place."

Adding that they also "did not provide an exit point within 25 feet inside the trench."

According to OSHA, federal trenching safety standards require protective systems for all trenches deeper than 5 feet.

OSHA has since issued WBW Construction LLC the following four serious citations, described in part as:

  • Failing to use ladders as designed
  • Failing to inspect the work site as frequently as required
  • Failing to remove water in the trench
  • Failing to provide workers with first-aid training

Officials said that the Georgetown-based construction company is the developer behind more than 24 different residential and commercial projects across Texas.

OSHA has since placed them in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"WBW Construction LLC willfully sent these workers into an unprotected trench and ignored federal safety requirements," OSHA Area Director Casey Perkins said in a statement.

"Now, two workers' families, friends and co-workers are left to grieve their tragic, and avoidable, deaths,"

"Incidents like this can be prevented by following proven and well-known methods to protect workers from the deadly hazards in trenching and excavation work," Perkins said.

Meanwhile, the company that staffed the two workers has since been issued one serious citation for "not inspecting the job site," officials said.

Sedona Staffing Services, a Moline, Illinois-based company that offers temporary staffing is also facing a proposed penalty of $9,324.

Officials said both WBW Construction LLC and Sedona Staffing Services now have 15 business days upon the receipt of citation and penalties to respond, including the ability to contest the findings.

To learn more about trenching hazards and solutions, click here.