Bronx construction company broke safety rules in fatal trench collapse: OSHA

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New York Construction Report staff writer

A construction company broke safety rules including failing to properly support the slab and failing to instruct workers on how to safely dig beneath it relating to an April 3 collapse that killed two men at the John F. Kennedy International Airport.

Two employees of a Bronx water and sewer line construction contractor were fatally injured in a trench at a construction site. These fatalities could have been prevented if their employer, Triumph Construction Corp., had ensured proper safeguards, a federal investigation found. The OHSA findings concluded.

Francisco Reyes, 41, and Fernando Lagunas Pereira, 28, were attempting to remove soil from below a concrete slab located within a trench when the slab broke apart and collapsed, fatally crushing both workers. U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found that Triumph Construction failed to:

  • Support the concrete slab, exposing both employees to the danger of a collapse.
  • Instruct employees on safe methods to remove the slab and provide supervision to ensure those methods were followed.
  • Construct the excavation’s protective system based on designs in accordance with OSHA standards.

As a result of these violations, OSHA cited the company for four serious violations with $59,153 in proposed penalties. View the citations.

“Working in excavations is inherently dangerous. Demolition of existing structures must be carefully planned, and shoring systems must be built according to their design. Employers are obligated to make a good faith effort to recognize, evaluate and control workplace hazards throughout the course of the work and as conditions change, which Triumph did not do,” said Kevin Sullivan, OSHA’s Long Island and Queens area director. “Diligent oversite and management of changing worksite conditions could have helped prevent this tragedy from happening.”

Triumph Construction Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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