The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited S.J. Louis Construction of Texas Ltd. with one serious and one repeat safety violation for exposing workers to trenching and excavation hazards at a job site in Hurst where workers were replacing a water line pipe. Proposed penalties total $45,500.
After an OSHA official observed employees working in a trench along the Highway 183 service road without a required shoring system to prevent cave-ins, OSHA's Fort Worth Area Office opened an inspection under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA standards require trenches or excavations 5 feet or deeper to be protected against collapse through shoring, sloping of the soil or the use of a protective trench box.
The serious violation is failing to protect workers in the trench from being struck by materials located within 2 feet of the excavation's edge that could fall into the trench. 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 repeat violation is failing to provide a required shoring system to prevent a cave-in. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. A similar violation was cited at a Carrollton site in 2008.
"This employer did not ensure that workers were protected from a possible cave-in," said Jack Rector, OSHA's area director in Fort Worth. "Excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous operations in construction, and it is very fortunate that no one was hurt."
Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, including safe procedures, is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
S.J. Louis Construction of Texas, which employs about 350 workers, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Fort Worth area office or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Fort Worth office at 817-581-7303.
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.