OSHA Cites WPM Construction for Cave-In, Traffic Hazards in Toledo

OSHA Cites WPM Construction for Cave-In, Traffic Hazards in Toledo

TOLEDO, Ohio (May 24, 2011) The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued WPM Construction Services of Grand Blanc, Mich., one willful and two serious safety citations for failing to adequately protect employees from cave-in and traffic hazards while working on the Schneider Storage Basin Project in Toledo. The company faces penalties of $54,600 as a result of a February inspection.

"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations, and failing to take precautions to protect employees against such hazards is inviting tragedy on the job," said Jule Hovi, director of OSHA's Toledo Area Office. "Employers are responsible for following OSHA standards to protect workers."

The willful citation is for allowing workers to install transition sleeves on a 24-inch water main in an excavation that was greater than 8 feet deep without being adequately protected from the potential for a cave-in. Inspectors also found employees working without cave-in protection at depths of 22 feet and adjacent to 32-foot basin walls where sloping angles had not been effectively maintained to prevent cave-in. 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 citations include failing to require employees to wear head protection and warning vests while working in a trench along a roadway where they were exposed to traffic hazards. 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 is available on the agency's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

The company 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 Toledo office at 419-259-7542. 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.