Toronto firm fined after worker dies in trench collapse

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Building a trench – representational image

TORONTO,- Utility Force Inc. pleaded guilty and was fined $75,000 in court after a worker died in a trench that collapsed.

On July 24, 2014, the company was engaged in the installation of water and sewer lines at a residential construction site on Venn Crescent, in the City of Toronto. A backhoe operator dug a trench from each of two residences, joining into a single trench in a “Y” configuration leading to the municipal water and sewer main lines. The depth of the excavation at one of the residences was about 10 or 11 feet.

The sides of the excavation were not sloped, and excavated material had been piled about three feet (one metre) from the edge of the trench. An 8-foot-deep by 10-foot-long shoring box was available, sitting on a flatbed trailer a short distance from the excavation.  The dimensions of that trench box were not sufficient to shore a 10- to 11-foot deep excavation.

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One of the workers entered the unshored and unsloped trench to clear dirt away which had fallen onto the pipe, despite other workers’ urging to the contrary. At that point the supervisor was sitting in a truck completing paperwork, and did not see or instruct the worker about entering the trench.

The side of the excavation collapsed, burying the worker in the trench up to the chest. A worker, the supervisor and two responding police officers jumped into the trench in an attempt to free the trapped worker; however, the commander of the responding fire department ordered everyone out of the excavation. Moments later a second cave-in completely buried the worker and the worker died as a result of that trench collapse. – CINEWS

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