Company will contest OSHA findings in fatal trench collapse

KRW Plumbing LLC will contest government findings that the company violated safety standards related to the death of a worker in a Washington Twp. trench collapse.

KRW attorney Robert Dunlevey disputed much of what the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) said in its press release Thursday about the June 15, 2016, death of James Rogers, 33.

“The owner of KRW (Richard Williams) is just a good, solid working guy that has been caught up in this,” Dunlevey said Friday. “(He) certainly regrets the whole situation. The deceased individual was a friend of his, so he’s taking this pretty personally himself.”

OSHA cited KRW Plumbing LLC for multiple willful and serious violations because it did not provide trench cave-in protection for employees. OSHA seeks penalties of $274,000.

“The company is filing what’s known as a notice of contest and we will go to trial to litigate the matter because we think that the charges that are advanced are in appropriate,” said Dunlevey, who added that he represents many companies accused of OSHA violations. “These are not open and shut cases.”

INITIAL REPORT (Nov. 17)

The company a 33-year-old employee worked for when he died in a trench collapse in Washington Twp. earlier this year has been cited for ‘willful, serious safety violations’.

An investigation by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found James Rogers’ employer, KRW Plumbing LLC, did not provide trench cave-in protection for its employees, according to a release.

RELATED: Man in fatal trench collapse expressed fears in Facebook post

OSHA cited the company for two willful and two serious safety violations on Nov. 8, after the agency completed its investigation into the June 15 death and a subsequent investigation opened in October.

Rogers was an employee that was part of a crew installing a sewer line in a residential home under construction in the 400 block of Claxton Glen Court in Washington Twp.

“This man’s life could have been saved by following OSHA’s safety standards that require cave-in protection in a trench more than 5-feet deep,” said Ken Montgomery, OSHA’s area director in Cincinnati. “Excavating companies need to re-examine their safety procedures to ensure they are taking all available precautions including installing trench boxes, shoring and other means to prevent unexpected shifts in the soil that can cause walls to collapse. Soil and other materials must also be kept at least two feet from the edge of trench to prevent the spoils from falling back into the open trench.”

Proposed penalties for the violations are $274,359, according to the release.

Based in Jamestown, KRW Plumbing has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent OSHA Review Commission.

Rogers’ is one of 23 workers killed, and 12 others who reported injuries in trench collapses in 2016, according to OSHA.

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