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Aqua Ohio cited after fatal trench collapse

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Posted at 10:19 AM, Jun 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-06-07 10:20:24-04

After a fatal trench collapse in Mentor buried an Aqua Ohio utility worker beneath thousands of pounds of soil, a federal investigation found Monday that his employer failed to provide proper protection, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.

Alexander Marcotte, 28, the father of a newborn and two other children, was transported to a nearby hospital on March 29 after the collapse; and he died hours later.
 
He was working to connect water lines beneath the ground when the trench caved in. 
 
This is the second time the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Aqua Ohio for putting employees at risk in unprotected trenches.
 
The agency stated that it also cited the Boardman-based utility company, which operates in 17 Ohio counties, for a similar violation at an Ashtabula job site in 2013 and fined the company in 2014.
 
"It is unacceptable that Aqua Ohio again risked the lives of its employees in an unprotected trench," a Cleveland-based OSHA director, Howard Eberts said.
 
DOJ stated that Marcotte had little chance of survival once he was 5-feet deep under the dirt because just one cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 pounds, the weight of a small automobile.
 
At the completion of its investigation into the death, on June 6 OSHA cited Aqua Ohio for five serious safety violations including failure to provide trench cave-in protection. 
 
Other violations OSHA cited include:
  • Failed to trained workers in recognizing trench hazard.
  • Failed to protect workers from excavated material failing or rolling into a trench or failing from inside the trench walls.
  • Did not have a competent person make worksite inspections.
OSHA has proposed penalties totaling $44,800 for the violations.