OSHA Fines Miss. Co. $161K for Trench Hazards

Yet another construction company has come up short in protecting its workers from trenching and excavation risks.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Graham Construction Co. Inc. for exposing employees to trenching hazards after inspectors observed employees installing water lines in an unprotected excavation at a work site in Ocean Springs, Mississippi. The contractor faces $161,771 in penalties.

OSHA cited the Escatawpa, Mississippi-based company for failing to protect workers from cave-ins while inside a 7-foot-deep excavation, provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench, and inspect the trench using a competent person. OSHA also cited the company for failing to ensure employees wore reflective clothing while exposed to vehicular traffic.

“In a matter of seconds, employees can be seriously or fatally injured when an excavation or trench collapses,” said OSHA Jackson Area Director Courtney Bohannon. “OSHA standards require protective systems be installed and inspected daily before work begins.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards.

OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The site includes a trenching operations QuickCard that provides information on protecting workers around trenches, and OSHA’s “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster that provides a reminder of how to prevent dangerous trench collapses – Shore it, Slope it, or Shield it. The poster is available in English and Spanish.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed 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.

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 help 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 https://www.osha.gov.

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