OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation launched in October 2018 in response to a spike in trenching fatalities.
The agency recently investigates Riverside Military Academy, a college preparatory academy in Gainesville, Ga., as part of this initiative and discovered willful and serious violations.
“Trenching and excavation hazards are preventable if employers follow OSHA standards and use required protective systems to keep workers safe,” said William Fulcher, OSHA Atlanta-East area office director.
Investigators found employees were allowed to work inside a trench without cave-in protection and did not have a safe means to enter and exit the excavation. In addition, Riverside Military Academy failed to locate underground utilities prior to conducting excavation work. OSHA issued willful citations for these violations.
OSHA also gave the academy serious citations for failing to identify permit-required confined spaces and train employees to recognize and avoid trenching hazards.
Proposed penalties total $381,882, and Riverside Military Academy Inc. in now in the agency's Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings.