OSHA cites Baton Rouge business in trench collapse that killed worker

Local News

As paramedics rescued a construction worker trapped under dirt from a trench collapse, his co-worker and friend, 24-year-old Isidro Martinez, was not as fortunate. Martinez, a husband and father, lost his life in the unprotected trench.

Following an inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the agency cited Baton Rouge-based Ted Hebert LLC on Nov. 20 for one willful and five serious violations. OSHA cited the willful violation for exposing workers to trench hazards and for failing to provide an adequate protection system, such as a trench box or similar equipment, to keep the trench from collapsing. The inspection took place on May 21, 2015.

The serious violations included the following:

            – Failing to train workers to recognize unsafe conditions.
            -Neglecting to have a ladder or other means for workers to exit a trench.
            -Keeping materials too close to a trench edge.
            -Allowing water to accumulate inside a trench, which would make a collapse more likely.
            -Failing to maintain a workplace free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious physical

“There is no excuse for exposing workers to deadly trench collapse hazards,” said Dorinda Folse, OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge. “The employer knew what needed to be done, yet a broken trench box lay nearby. Workers had to enter an unsafe trench with no adequate means of keeping the trench from caving in on them.”

Citations issued include proposed fines totaling $105,000. 

Ted Hebert, which specializes in the installation of sewers, water pipes and grading, employs approximately 32 workers. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Baton Rouge, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Baton Rouge office at 225-298-5458.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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