Exposing workers to cave-in hazards while installing water mains has resulted in Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping Inc. being cited for one willful and one serious safety violation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA opened the April 27 inspection after observing employees working in three separate unprotected trenches. Proposed penalties total $77,000.
"OSHA has cited Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping three times in the past year for failing to utilize the many forms of cave-in protection available to keep workers in trenches safe. The fact that three separate crews were working simultaneously without using cave-in protection demonstrates that this company does not have an adequate safety program," said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director for Cincinnati.
One willful violation was cited for failing to ensure workers were protected by placing side wall protection into each of the three, 6-foot-deep trenches. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The investigation also found that the company did not implement an adequate safety program, including failing to train workers on safe excavation and trenching. 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.
Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping Inc. 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 & Health Review Commission.