Trenching Hazards at 2 Sites Pile Up $142,800 in Penalties for OK Company

The alleged failure to protect its employees from potential trenching and excavation hazards has brought Luckinbill Inc. $142,800 in proposed OSHA penalties following an investigation at two separate worksites near Drummond, Okla.

OSHA's Oklahoma City Area Office began its investigation March 30 and found employees working inside a trench without adequate protection from cave-ins at the company's worksite on Highway 132, north of Drummond. Workers were replacing valves and piping for water lines at depths of 8 and 10 feet in excavations that were not properly sloped to ensure that the soil would not collapse inward. OSHA cited the company with one willful violation for failing to provide an adequate protective system for employees working in an excavation 8 to 10 feet in depth and one serious violation for failing to ensure employees were wearing high visibility vests.

The agency's inspection at Luckinbill's worksite on County Road NS2760, southwest of Drummond, revealed that the company's employees were exposed to the same hazardous working conditions. The company was cited with one willful violation for failing to provide an adequate protective system in an excavation 8 to 10 feet in depth, and two serious violations for failing to ensure employees were wearing high visibility vests and failing to ensure that excavated soil was kept at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation.

"Health and safety standards must be strictly adhered to in order to protect employees," said David Bates, OSHA's area director in Oklahoma City. "Excavations must be properly sloped or benched to avoid injuries and fatalities."

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. 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.

Luckinbill, headquartered in Enid, Okla., employs about 180 workers, six of whom were at the worksites at the time of the inspections 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. Oklahoma City employers and workers with questions about safety and health can call 405-278-9560. They also can use OSHA's hotline number, 800-321-6742, to report workplace accidents, fatalities, and imminent dangers.

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