The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Brocato Construction Inc. of Batesville, Miss., with two willful and one serious safety violation following inspection of two trenches along state Highway 305 in Olive Branch. Proposed penalties total $117,600.
Workers were relocating gas and water lines. OSHA opened its inspection as part of the agency's national emphasis program to reduce injuries at trenching and excavation construction sites.
The willful violations involve failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in trenches more than 5 feet deep. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The serious violation involves exposing employees to struck-by and cave-in hazards by not providing a ladder to enter and exit the excavation. 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.
"An unguarded trench can collapse and bury workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson. "The employer is aware of OSHA's safety standards with regard to excavation and trenching, but chose to put employees' lives at risk by having them work in an unprotected trench."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Brocato_391903_1001_2012.pdf
Brocato Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings 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 Jackson office at 601-965-4606.
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.