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Middletown company faces OSHA penalty

Worker injured in 2015 trench collapse, agency said

Seven months after one of its workers was injured while working in a trench, a Middletown company has been cited by federal officials for safety violations stemming from the incident.

The company is Williamson Plumbing and Heating Inc., doing business as Roto-Rooter Services Co., 4197 East Harrisburg Pike, federal officials said.

Last September, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration was notified of the trench collapse and opened an investigation, OSHA said in a news release.

“When OSHA inspectors arrived onsite, they found a Williamson Plumbing employee was injured while working in an unprotected trench approximately 10 feet deep,” the news release stated.

The trench’s sidewall had collapsed, trapping and injuring the worker, who required hospitalization, OSHA said.

The incident occurred at a site along the 1800 block of Pebble Court, Harrisburg, OSHA said.

After investigating, OSHA issued citations for what it called “one willful, six serious and one other-than-serious violations.”

The agency also issued citations to the company for failing to:

– keep excavated materials at least two feet from the edge of the trench.

– construct trenches in accordance with allowable slopes and configurations.

– ensure that a competent person inspected the trench.

– instruct employees in recognizing and avoiding unsafe conditions.

– maintain OSHA injury and illness records.

OSHA also proposes a penalty of $41,200, its news release said.

“Williamson Plumbing and Heating was lucky to avoid tragedy here,” Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA’s Harrisburg Area Office, said in the statement.

“Trench collapses can easily become underground deathtraps for workers. One cubic yard of soil can weigh as much as a small automobile in a cave-in,” he said.

Company officials could not immediately be reached for comment.

David O'Connor
Dave O'Connor covers York County, manufacturing, higher education, nonprofits, and workforce development. Have a tip or question for him? Email him at [email protected].

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