Norwich Facing Fines Following Trench Collapse That Injured Town Worker

Staff Report
Monday, November 13, 2017

Norwich — State officials are proposing to fine the town of Norwich $28,000 for four safety violations in connection with an October trench collapse that injured a worker on Beaver Meadow Road.

Town workers were helping a local contractor replace a culvert on Oct. 5 when a roughly 9-foot-deep trench gave way and fell on a municipal employee, sending that person, whom officials have declined to name, to the hospital.

The Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration last week found the town responsible for four safety violations. All were categorized as “serious” breaches, bringing a fine of $7,000 each.

A Nov. 7 citation from VOSHA says that Norwich failed to instruct employees on safety procedures, conduct daily inspections of the site, provide adequate protection for trench workers or use a proper traffic control plan when working in the road.

The worker was not, for instance, protected by a “trench box” — a metal frame that holds the earth in place and protects from cave-ins. Town officials have said they opted to slope the sides of the trench so as to avoid collapse.

Norwich has 20 calendar days after the state’s citation to pay the fine or file an appeal.