OSHA Cites Ohio Contractor in Trench Collapse

Mercerville, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued Trimat Construction Inc. of Bidwell six safety citations after a trench collapsed at a job site in Mercerville on March 8. The company faces penalties of $63,360.

An OSHA inspector was performing a work site inspection when he directed an employee to exit the trench, believing collapse was imminent. Within five minutes the trench collapsed and could have buried the worker under 6 to 7 feet of soil.

"The actions of the compliance officer likely saved this worker's life," said David Wilson, assistant area director of OSHA's Columbus Area Office. "Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations."

Two willful citations were issued for allowing a Trimat employee to work in a trench at a depth greater than 10 feet without cave-in protection or a safe means of egress. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The company also was issued four serious citations for failing to require employees to wear head protection, failing to provide training on proper set-up and inspection procedures for maintaining channelization devices between the work area and road to protect workers from traffic hazards; failure to provide a road zone barrier; and failing to keep excavated material and equipment 2 feet from the edge of an excavation to prevent a cave-in. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The inspection was conducted under OSHA's national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, adopted by OSHA in the 1980s, is available on the agency's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Trimat Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Columbus office at 619-469-5582. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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