OSHA Fines Plumbing Contractor for Fatal Cave-In

A Rooter-Man of Pittsburgh cited for 9 violations, faces $174,000 in penalties.
OSHA Fines Plumbing Contractor for Fatal Cave-In
Rescue workers retrieve a Rooter-Man employee from a trench cave-in Sept. 28 in Butler County, Pennsylvania. (Courtesy KDKA-TV, Pittsburgh)

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Twenty-one-year-old Jacob Casher was still a “new guy” employed by a Beaver, Pennsylvania-based plumbing company when he left home for work in September 2015. He probably never imagined that as he worked to install a sewer line 11 feet underground in Butler, Pennsylvania, it was to be the last day of his life.

Related: Unshored Trench Claims Life of Pennsylvania Plumber

On Sept. 28, 2015, the excavation in which he worked collapsed, crushing and burying Casher under thousands of pounds of earth. Research shows that a cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as 3,000 pounds, the weight of a small automobile. His employer, A Rooter-Man of Pittsburgh LLC, hired him just three weeks before the incident occurred.

After its investigation, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited A Rooter-Man for two willful and seven serious violations. The incident occurred at a commercial construction site in Butler, Pennsylvania.

Federal inspectors found the company exposed multiple employees regularly to cave-in hazards while they worked in unprotected excavations more than 5 feet deep. The agency determined that since the company’s owner normally served as the excavator on the job, he was aware of the highly unstable condition of the excavated soil. OSHA found the employer also failed to protect employees from loose rock or soil by not keeping the spoils pile at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation.

“A Rooter-Man of Pittsburgh knowingly took unacceptable risks in an excavation, which led to a tragic and preventable death of a young man with his whole future ahead,” says Christopher Robinson, director of OSHA’s Pittsburgh Area Office.

“Common-sense safety practices would have prevented this trench from turning into a worker’s grave.”

The citations carry a total of $174,000 in penalties.

To view the citations, visit: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/ARooterManofPittsburghLLC_1094899_0325_16.pdf.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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