Hard Rock Construction says it will not appeal $77,319 OSHA fine for two trench fatalities

Marcia Doyle Headshot
Updated Aug 16, 2018
An example of an unsafe trench.An example of an unsafe trench.

Hard Rock Construction, Boise, Idaho, has told OSHA it will not appeal its $77,319 fine resulting from a May 3, 2016 trench collapse that killed two workers during a sewer installation job,  reports the Idaho Statesman.

OSHA issued the fines for willful and serious violations on October 4, 2016, citing Hard Rock for failing to use employee protection within the trench, to instruct employees on trench collapse dangers, to conduct daily trench inspections by a competent person, and to have a ladder for safe egress. Instead, employees on site used a steep slope at the end of the trench to enter and exit the 9- to 11-foot trench, OSHA said in its citation.

Ernesto Saucedo-Zapada, 26, and Bert Smith Jr., 26, were killed in the Boise, Idaho, incident, two of 51 workers killed during in trench collapse during 2016 and 2017.  According to the Idaho Statesman, federal records show the U.S. Attorney’s Office considered and may still be considering criminal charges against Hard Rock.

Smith’s widow and his three children have sued Hard Rock, project owner French Homes, the Idaho Division of Building Safety and Public Works Contractors Licensing Board, the city of Boise and the Boise Public Works Department, according to the Idaho Statesman.

In addition to Hard Rock, two other companies had double trench collapse fatalities during 2016-2017.

On March 1, 2016, Aaron T. Pfannenstiel, 44, a company co-owner, and James Lee (Jake) Jacobs, 66, died in a J Corporation trench. The case is now closed; OSHA fined J Corporation, Hays, Kansas, $10,500 for the incident.

Atlantic Drain Service, Bellingham, Massachusetts,  received a $1.5 million fine from OSHA for an October 25, 2016 trench collapse that claimed the lives of Kelvin (Chuck) Mattocks, 53, and Robert Joseph Higgins, 47, in downtown Boston. Atlantic Drain owner Kevin Otto has been charged with two counts of manslaughter; the trial is scheduled for January 2019.