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OSHA: Workers Exposed to Cave-In Hazards at Excavation Site Image courtesy of Arvind Balaraman at

OSHA: Workers Exposed to Cave-In Hazards at Excavation Site

OSHA proposes $89,000 in penalties for violations by Angel Brothers Enterprises Ltd. in Baytown, Texas.

Angel Brothers Enterprises Ltd. in Baytown, Texas has been cited by OSHA for three alleged serious violations and one alleged willful violation for not protecting workers, who were replacing an old fire hydrant and water line, from being engulfed in an unprotected 9-foot deep excavation.

“It takes a matter of seconds for a worker to be engulfed in a trench or excavation site that is not properly protected or sloped. Angel Brothers has a history of failing to protect their employees,” said Mark Briggs, OSHA’s Houston South office area director. “Company managers were aware of the numerous trenching hazards in advance and yet failed to take action to protect their workers.”

The complaint-driven OSHA investigation began August 2014 as part of OSHA’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. The serious violations, with a penalty of $19,500, include:

  • Failure to place and keep excavated or other materials or equipment at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations;
  • Failure to remove accumulated water from inside the trench which weakens its stability; and
  • Failure to permanently affix durable identification to alloy steel chain slings for lifting capacity and size.

A serious violation occurs 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.

Angel Brothers received a willful violation, with a penalty of $70,000, for not providing workers in a 9-foot deep excavation with cave-in protection such as a trench box or shoring. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. The proposed penalty for that alleged violation is $89,500.

Angel Brothers Enterprises, which provides various types of underground utility construction, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with Briggs or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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