May 18–An Alstead man who was killed in a trench collapse in Acworth Tuesday was employed by a Bellows Falls trucking and excavating company at the time of his death, according to an official with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
Christopher Hewey, 37, worked for JP Trucking and Excavating, OSHA spokesman Edmund “Ted” Fitzgerald wrote in an email.
OSHA has opened an inspection into the fatal trench collapse, which occurred on Bascom Hill Road Tuesday at about 1 p.m., but the federal agency has not yet released details about the incident or the project Hewey was working on.
JP Trucking and Excavating did not respond to multiple phone calls requesting comment.
A red truck bearing the company’s name was at the scene of Tuesday’s accident. Two men who appeared to work for the company declined to comment.
Trench collapses typically occur when the walls of a trench cave in, according to Fitzgerald.
An OSHA report from 2016 states that the U.S. has seen a sharp increase in worker deaths caused by trench collapses in recent years.
In 2015 there were 11 trench-related fatalities nationwide, according to the report. As of November 2016, when the report was released, there had been 23 deaths that year caused by trench collapses. These collapses are rarely survivable, according to the report.
“One cubic yard of soil can weigh up to 3,000 lbs. — the weight of a small automobile — giving a worker in a trench little chance of survival when walls of soil collapse,” the report says.
Fitzgerald said OSHA inspections of trench collapses involve determining if companies took the correct safety precautions before an injury or death occurred. Such precautions could include shoring up the walls of a trench with supports or using a trench box, a device designed to protect workers, he said.
OSHA has up to six months to investigate the trench collapse that led to Hewey’s death, according to Fitzgerald.
JP Trucking and Excavating has been in business since 2004, and in addition to trucking and excavating services, also operates a sand and gravel pit, according to its Facebook page.
Acworth Selectman Jim Jennison said he couldn’t comment on the trench collapse or the work being done on Bascom Hill Road, which is a town road. He said town officials are meeting with their attorney this evening at 6 p.m. Kathi Bradt, Acworth’s administrative assistant, said the same thing.
State Police, who were on the scene of Tuesday’s accident, referred requests for further information about the incident to OSHA.
Callie Ginter can be reached at 352-1234, extension 1409 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow her on Twitter @CGinterKS.
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