Without Strong Foundation, Safety Program Doesn't Hold Up

Jan. 31, 2002
When an employee of a foundation repair company is electrocuted during a tunnel excavation, OSHA steps in and issues proposed penalties totaling $148,500.

An Olshan Foundation Repair Co. employee in Houston was electrocuted during a tunnel excavation beneath a residence undergoing a foundation repair. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited the company with alleged safety and health violations and proposed penalties totaling $148,500.

The OSHA Houston south area office conducted the investigation that began July 30, 2001, and cited Olshan with two willful, one serious and one other-than serious violation.

The two willful violations were issued for failing to ensure that electrical equipment was free from hazards, such as missing ground prongs, exposed conductors and damaged insulation. The second willful violation was for failing to use proper ground fault circuit breakers or an assured equipment grounding program to automatically trip off any leakage of electrical current. A willful violation is defined as one that is committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The serious violation was for failing to train employees in recognizing and avoiding hazardous conditions such as confined space, working in a conductive and damp location with defective electrical equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

The other-than-serious violation was failing to document injuries and illnesses on the OSHA 200 log. The law requires employers to log in any occupational illness, injury or fatality. The company did not log in the fatality. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not result in serious harm or injury to employees.

edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])

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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