OSHA Cites Branco Enterprises for Potential Trenching Hazards

OSHA has cited Branco Enterprises Inc. with an alleged willful and nine serious violations of federal health and safety regulations following an inspection at the company's worksite in Fort Smith. Proposed penalties total $102,600.

"This employer failed to protect its employees from possible trench cave-ins," said Carlos Reynolds, area director of OSHA's Little Rock Area Office. "It is fortunate that in this case no one was injured."

OSHA's Little Rock Area Office began its investigation Feb. 4. At the time, 20 workers were working at the site, five of whom were in a 7-foot deep trench on Grand Avenue, preparing the trench for concrete to be poured. The workers were not adequately protected from cave-ins since the trench was not adequately sloped.

A willful citation has been issued for failing to have a protective system in place to prevent cave-ins. 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 nine serious violations include failing to provide training in hazards associated with trenches, to protect workers from protruding rebar, and to ensure that employees had appropriate access to and from trenches. 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.

Branco Enterprises, headquartered in Neosho, Mo., has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Little Rock, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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