Contractor faces $277K in fines after trench collapse kills 20-year-old worker

A Maryland plumbing and HVAC contractor faces $277,050 in penalties for a trench collapse that killed a 20-year-old worker, according to citations issued by Maryland Occupational Safety and Health.

Kyle Ray Hancock of Glen Burnie, Maryland, was working in a 15- to 18-foot trench June 5 at the Clifton Park Pool in Baltimore. He and two other workers were in the trench, in which water had accumulated at the bottom.

According to the MOSH citations issued November 19, contractor R.F. Warder faces the following penalties:

  • $122,000 – failing to train employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe trench conditions. Willful-serious violation.
  • $91,500 – failing to protect workers from a trench cave-in. Willful-serious violation.
  • $30,500 – failing to have a competent person inspect the trench. Willful-serious violation.
  • $30,500 – workers in a trench in which water was accumulating. Willful-serious violation.
  • $1,050 – no ladder or other safe means of entering and exiting the trench. Serious violation.
  • $900 – worker in trench had no hardhat. Serious violation.
  • $300 – failure to provide safety training for skid steer and excavator operators. Other-than-serious violation.
  • $300 – failure to keep written training program for skid steer and excavator operators. Other-than-serious violation.

Warder has 15 business days to contest the penalties, but as of November 26, the company had not done so.

Hancock and other workers were repairing a city drainage line at the pool when the trench collapsed, according to the Baltimore Sun. The newspaper reported that the two workers in the trench with Hancock had been trying to dig him out when they were removed by rescuers. It took 10 hours to recover Hancock’s body.

Hancock was a 2016 graduate of North County High School, was employed by a local union and was working toward a career in plumbing and heat and air conditioning work, according to his obituary. He is survived by his parents and a sister. He was described as one who enjoyed spending time with his family, close friends and his dog, Max. He was a soccer fan and liked to play video games in his spare time.

For more on the dangers of trenches and how to protect workers, see Equipment World‘s special report “Death by Trench.”