DALY CITY (CBS SF) – A Livermore-based business has been cited more than $242,000 for safety violations related to the death of a worker in the collapse of a trench in Daly City last July, California Division of Occupational Safety and Health officials said Wednesday.

Platinum Pipeline Inc. received citations by Cal/OSHA for 10 violations following the death of 33-year-old Abel Sauceda of Modesto in the trench collapse at a residential construction site at 1 Martin St. on July 27, 2018.

According to the workplace safety agency, the company instructed employees to continue grading the bottom of the trench without providing any protection, even after seeing the soil was unstable. A 14-foot-high excavation wall then collapsed, killing Sauceda.

Daly City Trench Collapse

A construction worker died after a trench collapsed and buried him in Daly City on July 27, 2018. (CBS)

The workers were digging trenches to install storm drain pipes.  Three of the five workers there were trained in excavation, and the ends of the trench had been sloped to prevent cave-ins, but one side was not sloped because of concerns that a nearby utility pole could fall, according to Cal/OSHA.

A worker saw a large crack in the dirt of the unprotected wall, but two workers were instructed to proceed with the work. When the wall collapsed, Saucedo died but the second worker escaped, Cal/OSHA officials said.

Platinum Pipeline received two violations classified as willful-serious accident-related, five classified as serious and three classified as general. The overall fine amount is $242,600.

The two most serious offenses were failing to ensure that no employees were in the trench until an adequate protective system could be installed, and for failing to remove workers after someone observed cave-in hazards, according to Cal/OSHA.

“Excavations must be properly shored, sloped or shielded before workers enter,” Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum said in a news release. “The employer overseeing this operation understood the hazards, but did not take the necessary steps to protect its workers.”

Officials with Platinum Pipeline were not immediately available to comment on the Cal/OSHA fine.

A GoFundMe page set up at https://www.gofundme.com/nwvw5-abel-sauceda-quinonez to help Sauceda’s family pay for funeral costs and send his body to be buried in Mexico received more than $27,000.

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