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Region 8 News Release: 14-570-DAK
April 22, 2014
Contact: Scott Allen     Rhonda Burke
Phone:       312-353-6976
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov     burke.rhonda@dol.gov

OSHA cites Kuechle Underground after worker's leg is broken
when trench wall collapses at Mapleton, ND, residential construction site

MAPLETON, ND. – Kuechle Underground Inc. has been cited with one willful safety violation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failing to protect workers from cave-in hazards. OSHA initiated the inspection after an employee's leg was broken when a trench wall collapsed while he was installing residential sewer lines in Mapleton. OSHA has proposed fines of $46,200 for the Kimball, Minn.,-based company, which specializes in sewer installation and placed the company in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

"It is unconscionable for employers, in this modern age of safety, to have employees working in excavations without adequate protection," said Eric Brooks, OSHA's area director in Bismarck. "OSHA implemented a trenching and excavation special emphasis program in the 1980s to address these hazards. Companies, such as Kuechle Underground, should be well-aware of the necessary safety procedures required to protect their workers."

On Oct. 31, 2013, the worker was operating a gas-powered soil packing machine and tamping down the sand surrounding the newly installed sewer line when a portion of the nearby trench wall collapsed on his leg, causing the injury. The excavation was approximately 19 feet deep.

The willful violation cites the company for failing to protect workers in an excavation and remove them from a hazardous situation that could result