OSHA fines contractor $117K for alleged trenching violations
by MBJ Staff
Published: October 3,2012
BATESVILLE — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Brocato Construction Inc. of Batesville with two willful and one serious safety violation following an inspection of two trenches where workers were relocating gas and water lines along state Highway 305 in Olive Branch.
OSHA reports it opened its inspection as part of the agency’s national emphasis program to reduce injuries at trenching and excavation construction sites. Proposed penalties total $117,600.
The willful violations involve failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in one trench more than five feet deep and another trench that was eight feet deep. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The serious violation involves exposing employees to struck-by and cave-in hazards by not providing a ladder to enter and exit the excavation. 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.
“An unguarded trench can collapse and bury workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape,” said Clyde Payne, OSHA’s area director in Jackson. “The employer is aware of OSHA’s safety standards with regard to excavation and trenching, but chose to put employees’ lives at risk by having them work in an unprotected trench.”
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
Brocato Construction was contracted by the city of Olive Branch to relocate utilities, including gas and water lines. 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.
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