Trenching Hazards Pile Up $115,000 in Penalties for Ala. Contractor

"A trench can become a grave in seconds. Disregarding workers' safety by leaving them unprotected from potential cave-in and struck-by hazards is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham.

OSHA has issued three safety citations to Trax Development LLC of Northport, Ala., for exposing workers to cave-in and struck-by hazards while installing sewer lines in Vance, Ala. Proposed penalties total $115,000.

Two willful citations, with a proposed penalty of $112,000, were issued for failing to provide employees a safe means of entering and exiting a trench that measured 11 feet deep by 200 feet long, and for failing to provide workers with cave-in protection. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

Trax Development, a building contractor, also received one serious citation with $3,000 in proposed penalties for exposing employees to struck-by hazards from loose rocks and equipment while not wearing head protection. 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.

"A trench can become a grave in seconds. Disregarding workers' safety by leaving them unprotected from potential cave-in and struck-by hazards is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "It is the employer's responsibility to ensure the safety and health of its workers."

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

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