The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Taylor's Drain and Sewer Service for ten safety violations, including two willful violations, for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins. OSHA has proposed penalties of $194,000.
The OSHA citations are associated with trenching operations at two job sites in Lincoln, Neb., leading to a worker suffering a serious injury.
On March 22 at 5600 S. 90th St., a worker was buried waist-deep when a trench approximately 9 ft. deep collapsed. The worker required surgery to recover from his injuries. And on April 11 at a separate job site located at 4530 Adams St., two other workers were observed in a 10-ft.-deep trench without protection. Taylor's Drain and Sewer was installing water and sewer lines at both locations.
"Cave-ins are the leading cause of injury and death during excavations," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Taylor Drain and Sewer Service failed to provide basic safety precautions, which led to the serious injury of one of its workers."
At 5600 S. 90th St. job site, the company was cited for six serious violations, including failing to:
- develop and implement a written hazardous communication program
- provide workers with hazard recognition training
- protect workers from exposed underground utilities
- provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work
- provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry
- provide trench cave-in protection
An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
During OSHA's inspection at the 4530 Adams St. job site, two willful and two serious violations were cited. The willful violations involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in a trench more than 5-feet-deep and to provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement or plain indifference to employee safety and health. The two serious violations cited include failing to provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work and to protect workers from struck-by hazards, including spoil piles of soil placed less than two feet from the edge of the trench. Only two workers were at this job site.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 ft. or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TaylorsDrain_897301_0912_13.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TaylorsDrain_900012_0912_13.pdf*.
OSHA has placed Taylor's Drain and Sewer Services Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program as a result of these inspections. The program mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
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 Omaha, Neb., office at 402-553-0171.