Trench Collapse Results in 16 Safety Citations for Houston Construction Company

Hassell Construction faces $423,900 in OSHA penalties, placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program after worker seriously injured in trench collapse

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hassell Construction Co. Inc. for 16 safety violations, including six egregious willful violations for failing to protect workers inside an excavation from a cave-in. The company faces penalties totaling $423,900.

OSHA claims Hassell Construction knew the Richmond, Texas excavation site was dangerous, but failed to protect its workers.

In addition to the willful violations, Hassell was cited for nine serious violations, including failing to remove debris from the edge of the excavation. The company also did not provide a safe means to get in and out of the excavation for workers or conduct atmospheric testing inside excavations after a sewer leak. 

One employee working in the 8-foot trench became buried after the trench collapsed. Co-workers came to his rescue, digging him out with their bare hands. Moments after pulling the injured man to safety, the unprotected trench collapsed again. The worker was seriously injured and hospitalized.

OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference towards creating a safe and healthy workplace by committing willful or repeated violations, and/or failing to abate known hazards. It also mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. 

View Hassell Construction's OSHA citations

Hassell Construction has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston South area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.