<img height="1" width="1" src="https://www.facebook.com/tr?id=3990718177617800&amp;ev=PageView &amp;noscript=1">

OSHA Cites Contractor for Excavation Hazards After Deaths of Two Workers at JFK Airport

Thursday, November 2, 2023

NEW YORK – Two employees of a Bronx water and sewer line construction contractor were fatally injured in a trench at a construction site at John F. Kennedy International Airport in Queens on April 3, 2023. These fatalities could have been prevented if their employer had ensured proper safeguards, a federal investigation found.

trenchThe two employees were attempting to remove soil from below a concrete slab located within a trench when the slab broke apart and collapsed, fatally crushing both workers. OSHA inspectors found that the company failed to:

  • Support the concrete slab, exposing both employees to the danger of a collapse.
  • Instruct employees on safe methods to remove the slab and provide supervision to ensure those methods were followed.
  • Construct the excavation's protective system based on designs in accordance with OSHA standards.

“Working in excavations is inherently dangerous. Demolition of existing structures must be carefully planned, and shoring systems must be built according to their design. Employers are obligated to make a good faith effort to recognize, evaluate and control workplace hazards throughout the course of the work and as conditions change,” said Kevin Sullivan, OSHA's Long Island and Queens area director.

“Diligent oversite and management of changing worksite conditions could have helped prevent this tragedy from happening.”

Learn more about OSHA and protecting workers against trenching and excavation hazards.



Tips for Getting the Most From Your Rescue Training

Tuesday, October 31, 2023

Training time is precious; make sure it’s productive for you and your team. Here are a few suggestions:

  •  Take care of your gear. Inventory control and routine inspections are a never-ending process. Knowing that your rescue equipment is ready to go at a moment’s notice, not just prior to the training, is the first key to a successful training program. Any equipment that is damaged or out of manufacturer’s recommended life span should have already been replaced.
  • Fitness matters, both emotional and physical. We get so much more from our rescue training program when it includes attention to mental and physical health. Confirm that all personnel are medically able to perform the physically strenuous tasks involved in rescue training. Team members should be briefed on the types of activities that will be performed as well as possible effects from participating in the training (i.e., lifting, stretching, pulling, wearing a harness, being suspended in a harness or litter, inverting while suspended, etc.).
  •  rescue training class 2023Get everyone involved. The best leaders know how to get everyone excited and wanting to participate. Stress the importance of each person being actively involved and willing to participate in the training exercise. Each team member must be fully committed to the team’s overall mission; and training is perhaps the most vital component.
  • Provide focused training sessions. Identifying team deficiencies is an often-difficult process. Taking a good hard look at your team’s strengths and weaknesses can provide a clear map for your training.
  •  Train at new and different locations. While not always convenient, the benefits are endless. New locations offer new challenges. New challenges require new solutions.

Training is the foundational building block that every good rescue team is built upon. Real rescues should be easy… if your training has been realistic and hard. Make sure you make the most of it!   


Additional Resources:


Petzl Call For Inspection

Wednesday, October 25, 2023



This morning, Petzl issued a Call for Inspection on certain models of their Astro and Canyon-Guide harnesses. If your equipment cache includes either of these harnesses, follow this link to determine if you are impacted and how to proceed.

If you need assistance with inspecting your harnesses, Roco Rescue will be happy to help, please call 800-647-7626.

Always remember to inspect your gear before each use. Stay safe!

Roco Rescue Challenge 2023

Tuesday, October 24, 2023


This year marked our 30th anniversary of Roco Rescue Challenge – one of the longest-running rescue events in North America! Roco Challenge has always intended to be more than a competition with the primary purpose of learning and sharing ideas. And that was achieved this year with teams from both industrial and municipal sectors participating in the two-day event at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge, LA.

Confined space and high-angle environments pose many risks; and yes, challenges, for rescue teams. Roco Challenge recognizes these risks and takes them head-on. During this year’s event teams had to deal with six high-angle and confined space rescue scenarios found in industrial and urban environments. Teams faced off head-to-head in the Team Performance Evaluation (TPE). Finally, team members showed off their skills in the Individual Performance Evaluation (IPE).

Challenge scenarios are designed with the goal of teams facing new problems that require out-of-the-box rescue and rigging skills. They included simulated IDLH rescue entries with the use of SAR and SCBA equipment. Also included were single-person and multi-casualty scenarios with a mix of manikins and live victims as patients.

Our congratulations to all the teams who stepped up to the challenges presented by this year's event. Training and practice gained from Rescue Challenge 2023 will result in safer workforces and communities that these teams serve, making everyone's job safer.

Challenge 2023 Participants:

Baton Rouge Fire Department – Baton Rouge, LA

CF Industries – Donaldsonville, LA

Exxon BRPO – Baton Rouge, LA

Frisco Fire Department – Frisco, TX

Placid Refining – Port Allen, LA


In addition to the participating teams, many observers attended from various industries and agencies around the region.

Some of the exceptional performances this year included:
“Top Team” Overall Highest Average for All Scenarios – CF Industries of Donaldsonville, LA.
1st Place Individual Performance Evaluation Station (IPE) – Baton Rouge Fire Department.
1st Place Team Performance Evaluation “Yellow Brick Road” Station – CF Industries of Donaldsonville, LA.

If you missed this year’s Rescue Challenge, join us next year on October 16-17, 2024, at the Roco Training Center in Baton Rouge. Every year our instructors devise new “surprise obstacles” to challenge teams with hurdles never before tackled.

Rescue Challenge is an outstanding motivational event for rescuers giving them a goal to work towards as well as an incredible, hands-on learning event for all teams.

Is your team ready for the CHALLENGE 2024? (And, if not, our instructors can get them ready!)





Fatality Reports (Sept. 2023)

Tuesday, October 10, 2023

Confined spaces and excavations continue to present fatal hazards to workers, and OSHA continues to take notice. While OSHA lists fewer confined space accidents in 2021 than in 2020, 100% of them involved fatalities.

Trench collapses are among the most serious dangers in the construction industry. Excavations can collapse in seconds and can potentially bury workers under cubic yards of soil, each weighing as much as 3,000 lbs. In 2022, OSHA reported that at least 39 industry workers died. From 2011 to 2018, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports 166 workers died in trench collapses.

The following summaries are from OSHA News Releases (osha.gov). These tragedies serve as reminders to employers and rescuers of the inherent dangers involved in confined space entry and trench work.

Company’s Safety Failures Led 19-Year-Old Worker to Suffer Fatal Injuries Inside Concrete Mixer

cement picCANTONMENT, FL — A Georgia-based concrete pipe manufacturer could have prevented a 19-year-old worker from suffering fatal injuries after a concrete mixer restarted while the teen tried to clean the machine's inside in Cantonment in March 2023.

OSHA found that two workers had climbed inside the mixer initially to use a hammer and chisel to chip away hardened concrete. As one of the workers left the mixer, the machine restarted with the other inside.

OSHA inspectors cited the company for willfully exposing workers to crushed-by hazards by allowing them to enter the mixer without making sure to first follow energy-control procedures. The agency also found the company exposed workers to confined spaces hazards by not making sure a safe atmosphere existed inside the mixer before the workers entered and by failing to have an attendant ready to retrieve workers safely.

“Failure to implement well-known safeguards cost the life of a worker just beginning their adulthood,” said OSHA Area Office Director Jose A. Gonzalez in Mobile, Alabama. “This preventable tragedy should serve as a reminder of the importance of complying with safety and health standards, as required by law.”

Project Manager’s Death in Trench Collapse

OKLAHOMA CITY – A U.S. Department of Labor workplace safety investigation found that a contractor could have prevented a trench collapse that fatally injured a project manager at a work site in May 2023.

Investigators learned that the project manager and other workers were putting gravel rock around a newly replaced 24-inch sewer line in a 10-foot-deep excavation when the trench collapsed. OSHA determined that — by not following federal safety standards for trenching and excavation work — the company exposed its employees to trench hazards.

OSHA cited the company for one willful violation for not using protective systems in a trench deeper than five feet. The agency also identified serious violations for:

  • Failing to secure obstacles on the surface area near the trench.
  • Not providing safe entry into or exit from the trench.
  • Allowing standing water in the trench.
  • Failing to perform daily inspections.

“A worker has lost their life because the company disregarded its responsibility to ensure the safety of its employees,” said OSHA Area Director Steven Kirby in Oklahoma City. “Employers are required by law to follow safety and health procedures that are put in place to prevent tragedies like this from occurring.”

Grain Silo Operator Failed to Provide Required Safety Procedures in Deadly Engulfment

grain siloCOLQUITT, GA — A federal investigation into how a 59-year-old worker at a grain silo became engulfed and suffocated in April 2023 found the operator could have prevented the fatality by following required grain-handling safety regulations.

An employee entered a half-full bin to unclog clumps of grain as the bin's auger turned below. As they stood atop the grain, the pile shifted and quickly engulfed them. One other worker onsite rushed over and saw a rope that was tied to the worker disappearing into the grain but could not rescue their co-worker.  

OSHA cited the company for nine serious violations for exposing employees to engulfment hazards and failing to do the following:

  • Train workers on how to safely enter a grain bin.
  • Issue a permit and adequately evaluate hazards before employees enter a bin.
  • Require augers and other equipment components to be de-energized and effectively locked out.
  • Keep employees from performing tasks that require them to walk on moving grain inside a bin.
  • Make sure body harnesses and lifelines were adequate to avoid engulfment hazards.
  • Employ adequate communication methods, including communication with an observer to support workers inside a bin.
  • Provide rescue equipment for employees entering a bin.

“Our investigation found that following required federal safety standards might have saved this worker's life,” said OSHA Acting Area Director Heather Sanders in Savannah, Georgia.

OSHA investigators also found the company exposed employees to caught-in hazards related to the powered auger system by not following required lockout and tagout procedures to shut down the system and prevent the auger from moving. Additionally, they failed to test oxygen levels inside the bin to protect workers before they entered.

Contractor Endangered Employees in Trench, Despite Knowing the Risks…  

GUAM — Two weeks after federal workplace safety inspectors warned a construction company of hazardous conditions facing employees working in an excavation, they returned to find the company again exposing workers to potentially deadly trench hazards as they installed a sewer line.

Following a May 2023 OSHA inspection, two serious violations were issued related to the company's failures to provide adequate means to enter and exit the trench within 25 feet of the workers and test oxygen levels in the trench before employees entered.

"Working in a trench is demanding and dangerous work that requires specific precautions and protections to keep workers safe," explained OSHA Area Office Director Roger Forstner in Honolulu. “By running soil compactors and excavators within 20 feet of workers in the trench and failing to provide accessible ladders, the company chose to put production before safety, endangering the lives of its employees.”


Roco Rescue CS Attendant Requirements

Additional Resources



RescueTalk™ (RocoRescue.com) has been created as a free resource for sharing insightful information, news, views and commentary for our students and others who are interested in technical rope rescue. Therefore, we make no representations as to accuracy, completeness, or suitability of any information and are not liable for any errors, omissions, or delays in this information or any losses, injuries, or damages arising from its display or use. All information is provided on an as-is basis. Users and readers are 100% responsible for their own actions in every situation. Information presented on this website in no way replaces proper training!