City of Roswell facing $637,311 fine after worker death

ROSWELL, N.M. (KRQE) – The New Mexico Environment Department is issuing a fine against the City of Roswell after a city utility worker died from an injury. The incident happened in October 2023.

City workers were repairing a leaking water main in a trench when the walls of the trench caved in and trapped the worker, the environment department said. The other workers and emergency workers were unable to rescue the trapped worker in time.

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“This tragic accident could have been prevented if the city had complied with its own policies and OSHA standards,” the environment department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau Chief Bob Genoway said in a press release. “The city did not take the necessary safety steps including training workers, inspecting worksites, and using shoring or other protective systems, to ensure trenches were made safe before workers entered.”

The environment department cited Roswell with four willful violations that add up to $621,768. Those include failing to train workers on excavation safety requirements, failing to have a proper individual inspect the trench, failing to prevent water accumulation in the trench, and failing to use proper protective measures to prevent the trench walls from collapsing. The bureau also issued a citation for failure to ensure there was a ladder or proper escape method from the trench.

The City of Roswell has 15 days to respond to the allegations or pay the fines. KRQE News 13 reached out to the public information officer for the City of Roswell who said, “At this time, the city administration respectfully declines to comment on the citations and fines.”

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