Citation issued in collapse of Kearns Boulevard trench wall |

Citation issued in collapse of Kearns Boulevard trench wall

The Park City Building Department on Monday issued a citation to a firm that investigators say was involved in the collapse of a trench wall along Kearns Boulevard, the first since the June 29 accident that trapped a worker for nearly two hours.

Kurt Simister, a Building Department inspector who investigated the accident, said the department issued a two-count citation to Bowen Construction. Each count carried a $50 fine, meaning that the combined fine from City Hall totals $100. Simister said the firm has up to 30 days to pay the fine.

The two counts are:

Not adhering to the approved safety plan, which followed industry standards. Simister said the crews did not put up what is known as a trench box or a shoring box. The contraptions act as artificial walls while a worker is inside a trench, keeping the earthen walls from collapsing.

Not erecting a fence around the site to keep people out of the construction zone.

"It was just oversight on the contractor’s side that led to it," Simister said.

Investigators quickly indicated after the collapse the worker was inside the trench without a trench box, and the probe almost immediately focused on the lack of the protective apparatus. Simister said the collapse might not have occurred if a trench box was in use.

In the days after the accident, a Bowen Construction executive said the crew did not take all the safety precautions they should have. Jim Bowen, the firm’s vice president, said the workers understood they should not have been working inside the trench without a trench box.

Bowen said in an interview in early July the workers "didn’t use good judgment in trench safety." He indicated the crew attended a meeting focused on safety in trench projects the week before the accident.

Firefighters who rescued the man built a makeshift trench box out of specially designed panels before they entered the trench to bring him out. The firefighters placed the panels along the walls of the trench and secured them against the walls with four compressed-air jacks. The rescuers, wearing rappelling gear, then entered the trench, which was approximately 10 feet deep. The man was trapped up to his waist for nearly two hours.

The man is a Bowen Construction worker. Bowen said afterward the man suffered a dislocated hip in the accident. He has worked for the firm for approximately seven years, Bowen said.

A Bowen representative did not immediately return a phone message left after City Hall indicated the firm was cited.

Simister said Utah Occupational Safety and Health, a state division that investigates workplace accidents, is probing the collapse. He said he expects the state investigators will levy "significant" fines against Bowen. Simister is unsure when the state division will make its determination. A representative from the state division did not immediately return a phone message seeking comment.

The Building Department initially issued a two-count citation identical to the one issued to Bowen Construction to another firm involved in the work. Simister said he later determined Bowen Construction to be the responsible party and retracted the citation to the other firm.

The trench work was in anticipation of building a pedestrian-bicyclist tunnel underneath Kearns Boulevard. Bowen Construction is the general contractor.

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