$41K fine for violations in June trench collapse

By Matthew Glowicki

An investigation launched after a man was killed by a collapsed trench in June off Dixie Highway has concluded a construction company violated multiple workplace safety rules, including failure to properly train and protect their employees.

Tennessee-based Josh LeFevre Construction Co. was fined $41,600 by the Kentucky Labor Cabinet on eight violations, according to a citation issued earlier this month.

Jonathon Moore, of Cedar Grove, Tenn., was killed June 11 when the walls of a 12-foot-2-inch deep trench collapsed atop him and a colleague as they worked to install new sewer lines in the 13000 block of Dixie Highway.

The cabinet found the trench, the surrounding area and a cave-in protection system had not been inspected the day of the incident.

Fire officials said at the time a heavy heap of shifted dirt and concrete on the trench’s edge gave way, causing the collapse.

The citation notes two workers in the trench were not wearing hard hats and had no ladder to escape the hole.

A structural device meant to strengthen unstable soil and protect workers was in the trench, but it was only 8 feet tall.

A manhole on the site was also the subject of fines, as the cabinet found workers entered the manhole without any rescue equipment or training in rescue procedures.

Fines were also assessed for a lack of written rescue, safety and excavation procedures.

Daniel Lowry, a spokesman for the Kentucky Labor Cabinet, said the construction company has reached a tentative settlement to pay a reduced penalty amount of $32,000.

He noted the fines assessed were based off law violations, not the fact that Moore was killed.

“Our number one goal is to make sure the workers are safe,” Lowry said. “It’s not to punish this company.”

Moore, a Jackson, Tenn. native, died just days shy of his 20th birthday. He was a member of the Tennessee National Guard, according to his obituary.

Another construction worker also caught in the cave-in survived after emergency responders worked for more than four hours to free the man.

According to its website, the company operates mainly in Tennessee and Kentucky. A call and email to the company’s owner were not immediately returned Friday afternoon.

As part of the settlement, the Josh LeFevre Construction Company detailed its safety changes since the incident.

Lowry said the company has hired a full-time safety consultant, dedicated an existing employee to safety programming, safety trained all crew members and established written policies.

“A trench fatality is preventable, in nearly almost every case,” Lowry said. “This death was preventable, unfortunately.”

Information from www.courier-journal.com

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