Contractor Fined $147,000 for Cave-In Hazard at SUNY Brockport Worksite

During an inspection opened on March 31, OSHA found Blue Heron employees working in an unprotected excavation greater than 5 feet in depth.

OSHA has cited Blue Heron Construction for three alleged willful violations of excavation safety standards at a water line installation project on the campus of the State University of New York at Brockport. Proposed fines total $147,000.

During an inspection opened on March 31, OSHA found Blue Heron employees working in an unprotected excavation greater than 5 feet in depth. Additionally, the excavation lacked a ladder or other safe means of access, and piles of excavated material were situated less than 2 feet from the excavation's edge.

"Workers in an unprotected excavation are only seconds away from a fatal or disabling cave-in that could bury them beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "This employer knew the common-sense and legally required safeguards necessary to prevent this life-threatening hazard, yet did not implement them at this worksite."

This enforcement action qualifies Blue Heron Construction for placement in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.

OSHA standards require that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Protection can be provided through shoring, sloping the soil at a shallow angle, or use of a trench box.

"One means of preventing hazards such as these is for employers to establish an injury and illness prevention program in which they work continually with their employees to identify and eliminate hazardous conditions," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

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