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Aqua Ohio cited for safety violation that killed trench worker

Ohio's sole provider of water, Aqua Ohio, is facing a proposed penalty of $45,000 after an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was completed. The penalty relates to a safety violation that resulted in a preventable fatality on March 29. The incident claimed the life of a member of a crew that was relocating a water line.

For a company whose primary business is the supply of water and working with underground water lines on a daily basis, it is unacceptable to disregard the required safety regulations for trenches. OSHA inspectors reportedly determined that the trench in which the worker died was not supported or secured in any manner. The company owners knew, or should have known, that any trench of which the depth exceeds five feet must be secured.

Investigators also cited the company for not ensuring that soil and other materials were placed the required distance from the edge of the trench. Another safety violation involved the company's failure to have a competent person inspect the trenches to identify safety hazards. The company was reportedly also cited in 2014 for failure to comply with trench safety regulations.

The family of the worker who died as the result of this avoidable safety violation has likely faced several financial challenges in the aftermath of the accident. Death benefits claims may be filed with the Ohio workers' compensation insurance system in pursuing financial assistance. Along with a financial package to replace lost wages to help with the daily living expenses of the covered dependents, the program will also provide compensation for end-of-life expenses.

Source: cleveland.com, "OSHA cites Aqua Ohio, proposes $45,000 in fines after worker killed in Mentor trench collapse", Evan Macdonald, June 7, 2016

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