Rescue personnel at the scene Monday where a worker installing...

Rescue personnel at the scene Monday where a worker installing cesspool rings died when a dirt trench collapsed. Credit: James Carbone

The man killed when a trench collapsed as he installed cesspool rings outside a Head of the Harbor home was employed by a Bay Shore masonry company previously fined $10,000 for six safety violations, according to OSHA records.

Lauro Pacheco, 38, of Bay Shore, was working Monday at a residence on Piper Lane in the excavated dirt trench when it collapsed. Rescue workers responded about 2:25 p.m. and Pacheco was pulled from the trench — estimated by Suffolk County Police to be between 18 and 32 feet deep — several hours later and pronounced dead.

A project manager and other representatives of Darius Masonry Inc., which employed Pacheco, did not return messages seeking comment Tuesday.

Pacheco's death is being investigated by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which arrived at the collapse Monday night.

On Tuesday, agency officials said they could not comment on open investigations, which can take up to six months.

Darius Masonry was cited for six violations in 2016 that resulted in an initial fine of $15,600, which was later reduced to $10,000, according to OSHA records.

The 2016 violations were related to brick work on a commercial building and the company failing to provide workers with proper protective hard hats, scaffolding to protect from falling bricks, and platforms in case of falls, the records show.

Other violations were for repeatedly failing to provide safety data sheets. All violations were later corrected, according to OSHA.

OSHA investigators will examine “if the employer has complied with OSHA workplace safety and health standards” and determine if the company “is in compliance with OSHA standards,” said spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

If any violations are found, OSHA could propose penalties and issue fines and citations.

Monday's fatality was the latest on Long Island involving similar construction projects. In January 2020, two workers died after they were buried in mud and sand when a 30-foot trench collapsed as they installed a septic tank in Upper Brookville. Their company was fined $135,612 for the collapse, Newsday reported at the time.

In May 2017, a Huntington man was killed when the edge of a cesspool pit he was installing in Huntington collapsed, knocking him into the hole and suffocating him under a large mound of earth. His employer as well as the general contractor were issued fines by OSHA for “serious” safety violations in the incident.

In November 2017, a worker installing a cesspool at a Shoreham house was killed after becoming trapped in a pile of rubble. Information on any subsequent investigation was not available late Tuesday.

There were 40 fatalities nationally in 2022 related to excavation and cave-in accidents, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“Trenching and excavating is extremely dangerous,” said Lisa Aiken, president of the Melville-based Fast Line Safety Training, which instructs corporate businesses in proper workplace safety.

“I think I’ve seen more accidents this year than the past and it’s vital to make sure trenches are secured,” Aiken said. “A lot of Long Island is sand and not calculating soil correctly can be detrimental.”

She said there is a greater focus on commercial operations, while residential excavations for septic tanks can be overlooked. 

“People should never take any chances that these holes are going to collapse,” Aiken said. “People can become complacent.”

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