Trenching Violations Lead to OSHA Penalties

Sept. 25, 2001
Exposing employees to trenching hazards at a Fulton, Miss., job\r\nsite has led to $141,000 in proposed penalties against Columbus-based\r\nPerma Corp. by OSHA.

Exposing employees to trenching hazards at a Fulton, Miss., job site has led to $141,000 in proposed penalties against Columbus-based Perma Corp. by OSHA.

The alleged willful and serious citations for violation of safety standards resulted from a planned inspection of the Fulton worksite during which OSHA found employees installing water pipes in an unprotected trench with nearly vertical walls.

OSHA cited Perma Corp. for three alleged willful violations, with proposed penalties of $136,500, for failing to protect workers involved in trenching activities.

Hazards included failing to slope or shore trench walls or provide other protection from cave-in when working in a trench over 5 feet deep; not providing a ladder or other safe means to enter and exit the trench, and not keeping machinery and excavated matter at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation.

A hydraulic excavator, operated directly over the trench, piled excavated material up to 5 feet high and 8 feet wide at its edge.

"This employer showed intentional disregard for the safety of its workers," said Clyde Payne, OSHA''s Jackson area director. "No action was taken to correct the hazards at this worksite even though officials were aware of the dangerous conditions and the company''s safety manual addresses trenching safety procedures. In addition, inspections over the last five years have resulted in citations against Perma Corp. for similar violations. Failure to slope or shore trench walls or provide other protection from cave-in has resulted in workers being killed."

The remaining $4,500 proposed penalty was assessed for two alleged serious citations, one of which addressed the foreman''s practice of permitting a worker to stand on and ride the hydraulic excavator.

Both OSHA standards and the manufacturer''s safety manual forbid this practice which exposes workers to being struck, crushed by or thrown off the equipment. The second serious citation was issued for not having someone trained in first aid at the site.

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. Serious violations are those in which a substantial probability of death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

by Virginia Foran

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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