Posts Tagged ‘trench collapses’

Trench Collapse Costs Employer $106K in Fines

This latest trench collapse was costly of course to the injured employees but also to their employer.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited T.H. Construction Co. after two employees suffered serious injuries when a trench collapsed at a construction site in Lincoln, Nebraska. OSHA proposed penalties of $106,078 for one willful violation of its trench safety standards.

Two employees suffered injuries when a portion of the trench wall caved in as they repaired fiber optic cable. A third employee escaped injury. OSHA cited the company for failing to use protective systems to prevent a collapse.

“Compliance with trenching and excavation regulations is not optional,” said OSHA Omaha Area Office Director Jeff Funke. “Employers are legally required to use appropriate protective systems to ensure that workers are not injured.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides information on trenching hazards and solutions. Additional information is available in OSHA’s construction hazards prevention videos on trenching and soil classification.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.

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.

OSHA Violations Set Prep School Back $331K

This military prep school may excel at preparing future leaders. Workers safety? Not so much.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Riverside Military Academy Inc. – a military college preparatory academy in Gainesville, Georgia – for exposing employees to trenching hazards. The company faces $381,882 in penalties, including citations for the maximum penalties allowed by law.

OSHA issued willful citations for allowing employees to work inside a trench without cave-in protection and a safe means to enter and exit the excavation, and failing to locate underground utilities prior to conducting excavation work. OSHA also issued serious citations for failing to identify permit-required confined spaces, and train employees to recognize and avoid trenching hazards. The investigation was part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA has placed Riverside Military Academy Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“Trenching and excavation hazards are preventable if employers follow OSHA standards and use required protective systems to keep workers safe,” said OSHA Atlanta-East Area Office Director William Fulcher.

OSHA’s Trenching and Excavation safety and health page includes information on sloping, shoring, and shielding trench walls to prevent trench cave-ins, and methods to prevent other trenching hazards.

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

OSHA Targets Trench-Related Injuries in New Series of Compliance Assistance Resources

The hazards associated with trenching in construction are well-known, and I have written about them extensively.

Now, federal regulators are upping their commitment to eliminate those hazards.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from trenching and excavation hazards. OSHA’s goal is to increase awareness of trenching hazards in construction, educate job creators and workers on safe cave-in prevention solutions, and decrease the number of trench collapses. These resources, which continue the goals of the Department’s recently announced Office of Compliance Initiatives (OCI), encourage and facilitate compliance evaluations.

Trench-related injuries are preventable when workers are properly trained and the required protections are in place. OSHA is working with industry stakeholders and providing new compliance assistance resources.

  • U.S. Secretary of Labor Alexander Acosta recorded audio public service announcements in English and Spanish that highlight effective ways to stay safe when working around trenches and excavations. A 45-second video, “5 Things You Should Know to Stay Safe,” also highlights well-known and proven safety measures that can eliminate hazards and prevent worker injuries.
  • An updated trenching operations QuickCard provides information on protecting workers around trenches, including daily inspections, and trench wall safety.
  • OSHA’s revised “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses: SLOPE or bench trench walls, SHORE trench walls with supports, or SHIELD trench walls with trench boxes. The poster is available in English and Spanish.
  • An updated trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions.

OSHA’s On-Site Consultation Program provides valuable services for job creators that are separate from enforcement. OSHA recently published an analysis demonstrating how the agency’s On-Site Consultation Program contributes $1.3 billion to the national economy each year. Job creators who implement workplace improvements can reduce lost time due to injuries and illnesses, improve employee morale, increase productivity, and lower workers’ compensation insurance premiums.

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 http://www.osha.gov.

OCI – housed within the Department of Labor’s Office of the Assistant Secretary for Policy – fosters a compliance assistance culture within the Department designed to complement its ongoing enforcement efforts. This Office focuses on helping enforcement agencies more effectively use online resources to deliver information and compliance assistance to help the American people. In August 2018, OCI launched Worker.gov and Employer.gov to provide information about workers’ rights and the responsibilities of job creators toward their workers.

OSHA Rips Tex. Contractor for Trench Collapses

This is a company people might want to avoid working for or patronizing until it can provides workers adequate safety protections.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited El Paso Underground Construction for failing to protect its employees from trench collapse hazards. The pipe-laying company faces proposed penalties of $190,642.

OSHA conducted an inspection after observing employees working in an unprotected trench. OSHA cited the company for failing to provide employees a safe means of entering and exiting a trench, not protecting employees against cave-ins, and for failing to train employees in safe work practices. OSHA cited the company four times in 2017 for failing to protect employees from trench collapse hazards. The Agency has placed El Paso Underground in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

“This company has once again put their employees at serious risk by failing to provide training and implement required trenching protections,” said OSHA Area Office Director Diego Alvarado, in El Paso. “Unprotected trenches can be fatal and it is fortunate that no one was injured.”

El Paso Underground Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the 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.

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 http://www.osha.gov.

Spike in Trench Collapse Deaths This Year

Most workers can be thankful on this Thanksgiving Day that they work in safe workplaces.

It’s another story, however, for employees who work in trenches. This year is notable for a lack of safety.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this week its Cleveland office has opened an investigation after learning a 28-year-old employee of W.F. Hann & Sons was injured while installing sewer lines in an 8-foot trench in Seven Hills on Nov. 19, 2016.

While working in the trench at approximately 1:30 p.m., the soil suddenly shifted, and the trench walls around him collapsed – burying him in an estimated 14,000 pounds of dirt. The force of the soil was so great that it shattered a piece of 4 x 8 inch thick strand board the company used for shoring. A co-worker dug him out of the trench quickly and saved the man’s life. The Seven Hills Fire Department responded to the 911 call and transported the employee to Metro Hospital.  His condition is unknown.

Since January, trench collapses have killed 23 workers and injured 13.

In a related incident, OSHA reported that an agency inspector saw a worker in a 15-foot deep unprotected trench in Berea today and ensured he was removed from danger. The agency has opened an investigation of the man’s employer – Trax Construction Co. of Wickliffe – as a result.

I pray workplace safety will be a priority of the incoming Trump Administration.

Here’s OSHA’s announcement of the investigation.