Fla. Excavating Co. Cited for Trenching Violations

June 26, 2001
OSHA cited DeWitt Excavating, Inc., and proposed penalties\r\ntotaling $80,800 for willful and serious trenching violations found\r\nat an Orlando construction site.

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

About the Author

EHS Today Staff

EHS Today's editorial staff includes:

Dave Blanchard, Editor-in-Chief: During his career Dave has led the editorial management of many of Endeavor Business Media's best-known brands, including IndustryWeekEHS Today, Material Handling & LogisticsLogistics Today, Supply Chain Technology News, and Business Finance. In addition, he serves as senior content director of the annual Safety Leadership Conference. With over 30 years of B2B media experience, Dave literally wrote the book on supply chain management, Supply Chain Management Best Practices (John Wiley & Sons, 2021), which has been translated into several languages and is currently in its third edition. He is a frequent speaker and moderator at major trade shows and conferences, and has won numerous awards for writing and editing. He is a voting member of the jury of the Logistics Hall of Fame, and is a graduate of Northern Illinois University.

Adrienne Selko, Senior Editor: In addition to her roles with EHS Today and the Safety Leadership Conference, Adrienne is also a senior editor at IndustryWeek and has written about many topics, with her current focus on workforce development strategies. She is also a senior editor at Material Handling & Logistics. Previously she was in corporate communications at a medical manufacturing company as well as a large regional bank. She is the author of Do I Have to Wear Garlic Around My Neck?, which made the Cleveland Plain Dealer's best sellers list.

Nicole Stempak, Managing Editor:  Nicole Stempak is managing editor of EHS Today and conference content manager of the Safety Leadership Conference.

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