Employee Engulfed by Soil, Contractor Fined $60,720

While inspecting the site, OSHA found that two trenches—including the one in which the injured employee was working—lacked cave-in protection, as neither had a trench box or shield system.

OSHA has cited Hahira, Ga.-based Southern Allied Contractors Inc. for five safety violations after an employee was seriously injured during a trench wall collapse in Valdosta, Ga. The utility contracting company was installing a new sanitation line at a work site when soil engulfed the employee. Proposed penalties total $60,720.

While inspecting the site, OSHA found that two trenches—including the one in which the injured employee was working—lacked cave-in protection, as neither had a trench box or shield system. One willful violation was cited for failing to provide adequate protection to employees working in trenches.

Four serious safety violations include failing to ensure that a ladder was available so employees could readily access and exit the bottom of a 7-foot-deep trench; exposing employees to fall hazards with the cover removed from a 7-foot-deep manhole; failing to ensure that a ladder was available to access and exit the bottom of the manhole; and not adequately training employees on recognizing and instituting preventive measures to protect against excavation hazards.

"This employer understood OSHA's rules on using protective systems when trenching and excavating but chose to ignore them," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "The Labor Department is committed to keeping workers safe by ensuring that employers take responsibility for safety and health."

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