OSHA Cites Vinton Construction for Excavation-Safety Violations

Manitowoc, WI, firm faces $95,000 in penalties after Brookfield site inspection

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Manitowoc, Wis., utility contractor Vinton Construction Co. for one willful and four serious safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while performing trenching operations to install water main lines in Brookfield. The company faces proposed penalties of $95,040 following an inspection conducted under OSHA's Trenching and Excavation National Emphasis Program.

"Cave-ins during excavations are a leading cause of worker fatalities," said George Yoksas, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "Safety should be paramount on every job site and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

The willful safety violation, with a proposed penalty of $69,300, was cited for failing to protect workers installing water mains in a trench approximately 6 feet below grade. 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 serious violations, with proposed penalties of $25,740, were cited for failing to keep excavated materials or equipment at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations, have identification tags affixed to chain slings and not performing proper trench inspections. 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.

One other than serious violation was cited for not maintaining tabulated trench data on the job site. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

Prior to this inspection, Vinton Construction Co. has been inspected several other times by OSHA and cited for violations of trenching and excavation standards.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet 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 company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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 Milwaukee Area Office at 414-297-3315.

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.