OSHA Fines Cincinnati Plumbing Company $150,000 for Violations of Trenching and Excavation Safety Rules

OSHA has cited Moeves Plumbing Inc. of Cincinnati following an Aug. 2, 2004, inspection of a trenching operation in Hamilton, Ohio.

The agency issued citations for three alleged willful violations and one serious violation of workplace health and safety standards involving trenching and excavation operations. OSHA says it found employees working in a trench approximately 9 feet deep were exposed to cave-in hazards due to inadequate or missing safety equipment; the improper piling of excavated material that was too close to the open trench, where it could have rolled or fallen back into the excavation; and inadequate safe means of entering or exiting the trench. A serious citation was issued alleging trench shields available for use were damaged.

Moeves Plumbing has been the subject of 13 previous inspections, including five that resulted in citations for violations of OSHA's trenching standards, according to the agency. Two of the 13 inspections came as a result of employee fatalities due to trench cave-ins.

"Strong enforcement is a key part of this Administration's efforts to reduce workplace injuries and illnesses," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $150,000 in this case demonstrates our commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 working days to appeal the citations.

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