OSHA Unearths Trenching Hazards at Georgia Construction Site

In September 2010, as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation, a compliance officer observed several violations at a worksite where the company was installing pipe in a deep excavation.

OSHA has cited George Grading and Hauling Inc. of Franklin, Ga., for willfully exposing a worker to being trapped and buried by a trench collapse and serious safety hazards. The storm and sewer drain construction company faces $64,750 in penalties.

In September 2010, as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation, a compliance officer observed several violations at a worksite on Carrollton, Ga., where the company was installing pipe in a deep excavation.

OSHA issued a willful citation to the company alleging it allowed a worker in a deep trench without cave-in protection. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. The proposed penalty is $49,000.

The company also was issued five serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $15,750. OSHA alleges that the company allowed employees to work in a trench with overhead hazards without wearing personal protective equipment, did not supply workers with a safe means of exit from the trench, exposed a worker to struck-by hazards by allowing an employee in the trench too close to materials overhead, allowed materials to be placed too close to the edge of the trench so they were liable to roll back into the excavation, and did not inspect the trench to identify and correct struck-by hazards. A serious citation is issued 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.

"Allowing people to work in a trench without proper protections in place invites injury or death. Employers must take steps to ensure the safety of their workers," said Andre Richards, director of the OSHA Atlanta-West Area Office.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/construction.html.

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