OSHA's Trenching and Excavation National Emphasis Program has snared Manitowoc, Wisc., utility contractor Vinton Construction Co. The company was cited for one willful and four serious safety violations for failing to provide trench workers with cave-in protection at a Brookfield, Wis., site. The company was performing trenching operations to install water main lines in Brookfield.
"Cave-ins during excavations are a leading cause of worker fatalities," said George Yoksas, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "Safety should be paramount on every job site and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. The alleged willful safety violation, with a proposed penalty of $69,300, was cited for failing to protect workers installing water mains in a trench approximately 6 feet below grade. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
The alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties of $25,740, were cited for failing to keep excavated materials or equipment at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations, have identification tags affixed to chain slings and not performing proper trench inspections. 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.
One alleged other-than-serious violation was cited for not maintaining tabulated trench data on the job site. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Prior to this inspection, Vinton Construction Co. was inspected several other times by OSHA and cited for violations of trenching and excavation standards.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Yoksas or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.