Cave-In Hazards at Colorado Excavation Sites Lead to $180,180 Fine

OSHA's Englewood Area Office opened an investigation at a work site in Wheat Ridge on Aug. 30 and a second investigation on Sept. 8 at a site in Colorado Springs, following reports that workers were installing sewer pipes without adequate protection from possible cave-ins.

OSHA has cited Greenwood Village, Colo.-based Pipeline Industries Inc. with seven safety violations for exposing workers to cave-in hazards at excavation work sites in Wheat Ridge and Colorado Springs. Proposed penalties total $180,180.

OSHA's Englewood Area Office opened an investigation at a work site in Wheat Ridge on Aug. 30 and a second investigation on Sept. 8 at a site in Colorado Springs, following reports that workers were installing sewer pipes without adequate protection from possible cave-ins.

Two willful violations include failing to install the required cave-in protection and provide a competent person to remove workers from recognized hazardous conditions.

Two serious violations include failing to maintain specific data for the shoring system in use and to provide a safe means of access and egress from the trench.

Three repeat violations involve failing to ensure the spoil pile was placed at least 2 feet from the edge of the trench at each work site and to repair damaged ladders. Similar violations were cited in 2010 at a Denver work site.

"A trench can quickly become a grave when an employer fails to protect workers from a trenching or excavation cave-in," said David Nelson, area director of OSHA's Englewood office. "The hazards discovered during these inspections are well recognized within the industry, yet this employer chose to put workers in harm's way."

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