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The Suburbanite
  • Trench collapse probe ongoing

  • Officials with the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration said Monday that their investigation of last week’s fatal trench collapse in Jackson Township will likely take considerable time before it is complete.

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  • Federal safety officials said Monday that it likely will take months before they finish their investigation of last week’s fatal trench collapse in Jackson Township.
    “The matter is still under investigation,” said Walter Visage, an assistant area director at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s Cleveland regional office. “Chances are we won’t have conclusions for some time. We have six months to complete the investigation since the time of the incident.”
    Visage said the OSHA investigation is concerned “primarily with trench-safety rules,” but did not explain further.
    CANTON MAN DIES
    Scott K. Beatty, 50, died last Tuesday while working in a trench on a sewer line installation project in Jackson Township. He was an employee of Bontrager Excavating of Lake Township.
    Beatty, who lived in southwest Canton, became trapped 15 feet under the ground when the trench collapsed.
    The victim’s son, Scott Beatty Jr., 24, also was trapped while working with his father. The younger Beatty was rescued and was transported to Affinity Medical Center in Massillon.
    PREVIOUS VIOLATIONS
    “They (Bontrager Excavating) have a history of violations with OSHA over the years,” said Scott Allen, a public relations officer for the OSHA Chicago office. “They have a history of the same type of things at different sites.”
    Bontrager officials referred questions to a Clevelend-area attorney, Brian Brittain, who was not available for comment Monday.
    The project in Jackson Township was through a $1.5 million contract with the Stark County commissioners to install a sanitary sewer pipe in the 7900 block of Cheryl Lane Street NW.
    ANOTHER FATALITY
    Among the violations assessed to Bontrager Excavating was another fatal accident in 1992 when a worker died while at a site in Stow. Bontrager paid a $2,250 fine because of safety violations at that site, according to Allen.
    “It is obviously very dangerous work,” Allen said. “That is why we have stringent safety standards to help protect the workers. Injuries and fatalities are very preventable if OSHA standards are followed.”
    Bontrager, according to OSHA records, also received two citations from investigations of four incidents going back to 2007 in Ohio.
    “I wouldn’t define that as unusually high,” Allen said. “But the fact they have repeat violations is a concern. They are receiving small violation penalties.”
    The most recent violation was in December 2008, when the company was fined $1,500 for a violation of standards for a protective system around a trench, according to OSHA records.
    Another infraction occurred in August 2007. In that case, Bontrager was fined $2,380 for a serious violation and a repeat offense.
    OSHA is a division of the U.S. Department of Labor.