OSHA Cites Utility Company for Potential Trenching Hazards

The alleged failure to protect its employees from potential trenching and excavation hazards has brought H & H Plumbing & Utilities Inc. $46,200 in proposed penalties from OSHA following an inspection at the company's worksite in Edmond.

"Failure to implement OSHA's standards and regulations to prevent cave-ins will not be tolerated," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "It is fortunate, in this case, that no one was injured."

OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began its investigation Feb. 20 at the company's worksite on South Bryant Avenue at Briarwood Drive in Edmond. Employees were working inside a trench without adequate protection from cave-ins. At the time of the inspection, two workers were repairing a water line in a 7-foot deep trench which was not properly sloped.

The willful citation was issued for failing to provide a protective system for trench excavation 7-feet deep with vertical walls. Protective systems can include sloping and benching of the soil or various shoring methods with steel or timbers to prevent soil collapse. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The serious citation was issued for failing to train employees on the hazards of possible trenching and cave-ins. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

H & H Plumbing, headquartered in Goldsby, Okla., employs about 85 workers, six of whom were at the worksite at the time of the inspection. The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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