OSHA cited DeWitt Excavating, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $80,800 for willful and serious trenching violations found at an Orlando construction site.
The company received one willful violation with a proposed penalty of $56,000 for failing to have a competent person on-site to assure that hazards associated with excavation were recognized and controlled.
"The site supervisor who was specifically trained to recognize and control hazards left the job without assuring that another similarly qualified person was in charge," said Les Grove, OSHA''s Tampa acting area director.
During OSHA''s April 5 inspection, investigators found DeWitt employees working in a seven-foot deep and 25-foot long trench without any protection from cave-ins.
Excavated material piled along the edge of the excavation increased the risk that the unsupported trench walls would collapse.
In addition, as workers installed pipes in the trench, a backhoe bucket passed back and forth over their heads covering the completed sections with soil.
As a result of the findings, the agency cited DeWitt Excavating for four serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $22,400 for failing to:
- remove workers from the trench before backfilling operation began;
- provide an employee protection system, such as trench shields or boxes,
- keep the excavated material at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation, and
- have a ladder in the trench as a means of escape for workers.
"The conditions that were found on this worksite were easily preventable," said Grove. "Inspections by the competent person are essential to assure that proper precautions are taken to control hazardous conditions as they occur during the excavation process. Such inspections were not conducted in this case. It is fortunate that no one was seriously injured before the OSHA inspection began."
The agency is proposing an additional $2,400 penalty for failing to properly maintain an injury and illness log.
Winter Garden, Fla.-based DeWitt Excavating, Inc., employs approximately 130 workers and had eight working at this site, the Festival Bay Mall development.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
by Virginia Sutcliffe