Oklahoma Construction Contractor Cited for Repeat Trenching, Excavation Hazards

Oklahoma Construction Contractor Cited for Repeat Trenching, Excavation Hazards

The consequences of unsafe trench, excavation work can be fatal.

OSHA has cited Cherokee Pride Construction Inc. of Sapulpa, Okla. for serious violations related to excavation work. According to a press release from agency, inspectors arrived at a job site in September 2020 to find “employees in standing water as they installed water lines in two trenches as part of a street widening project.”

OSHA said it determined that the company failed to protect workers from cave-ins and did not provide appropriate means of escape. Workers were also not wearing required PPE for the job.

This isn’t the first time this company has been in hot water with OSHA. Back in 2017, the agency cited the company three times for failing to provide trench workers personal protective equipment, a means of escape and hazard recognition training, allowing standing water inside excavation sites, and failing to fix ladder defects.

OSHA noted that excavation work is among the most dangerous in the construction industry. Trenches can collapse around and atop workers, crushing and burying them quickly and sometimes fatally.

“OSHA recognizes the incidents of workers seriously hurt from trenching and excavation hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Steven A. Kirby in Oklahoma City. “The agency's national emphasis program on trenching and excavation focuses its resources on preventing the potential for collapses.”

A video on OSHA’s Trenching and Excavation webpage lists five things you should know to stay safe when working around trenches or excavations. They are:

  1. Ensure a safe entry and exit.
  2. Trenches must have cave-in protection.
  3. Keep materials away from the edges of the trench.
  4. Look for standing water or other hazards.
  5. Never enter a trench unless it has been inspected.

OSHA has cited Cherokee Pride Construction Inc. for two willful, four repeat and three serious violations, and has proposed penalties totaling $205,500. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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