“This company endangered workers’ lives by trading safety for a quicker and less expensive means of excavating a trench,” said James Borders, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville.
An OSHA compliance officer found that the company was digging an 8-foot-deep trench for a drain pipe without sloping the sides of the trench to prevent a cave-in or using a protective trench box and shoring. The foreman at the site allegedly chose not to slope the sides of the trench because of the additional time and effort it would take to enlarge the excavation.
OSHA is issuing one willful violation with a proposed penalty of $38,500. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Two serious violations with $3,500 in proposed penalties are being issued against the company for not training employees to recognize the hazards of working in a trench, and for placing excavated soil less than 2 feet from the trench edge, allowing for a potential cave-in.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.