Excavating company fined $509,071 for trench violations, contractor surrenders license

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Updated Sep 24, 2019
An example of an unsafe trench.An example of an unsafe trench.

A Michigan-based excavation company has agreed to close business operations and pay a $509,071 penalty for not protecting workers from trench collapse, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The company’s owner must also surrender his contractor’s license.

OSHA says the agreement was reached after its inspectors on three separate occasions between September and October 2017 reported that Kamphuis Pipeline had “repeatedly exposed employees to trench cave-in hazards while workers installed water metering pits and lines” for municipalities of Tappen and Dawson, North Dakota. They also reported a multitude of other violations, including struck-by hazards, workers with no hard hats, falling-object and electrical hazards, workers near traffic with no safety vests, two portable generators sitting in water running water pumps and a trench box sinking from flowing water.

Along with paying the penalties, Kamphuis must “voluntarily terminate all operations and dissolve the company’s corporate status in South Dakota.” The company’s owner and founder, Daniel J. Kamphuis, agreed to surrender his North Dakota contractor license, OSHA said.

“Both he and the company also agreed not to have any ownership or managerial interest in any construction business conducting trenching and excavation activities within the U.S. in the future,” according to OSHA. “They may engage in such activities in other capacities but must notify OSHA and take appropriate training if they intend to resume such work.”

“This agreement sends a message that companies that want to do business in the trenching and excavation industry must operate safely and protect employees on the jobsite,” said Acting OSHA Regional Administrator Rita Lucero in Denver, Colorado.

For more on the business and human costs of trench-collapse fatalities in the United States, see Equipment World’s special report “Death by Trench”.