OSHA Citations Allege Willful Violations of Safety Standards at Louisiana Worksite

A Watson, La., homebuilder's alleged failure to protect employees from a trench cave-in that reportedly caused the death of one employee resulted in proposed OSHA penalties of $76,750.

Atlas Corp. was cited with two alleged willful and four alleged serious safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began Jan. 7 after a trenching fatality at the company's worksite in Denham Springs, La. The company, which employs about 21 workers, was installing sewer pipes in a developing subdivision.

The alleged willful violations were for failing to protect employees working inside trenches from cave-ins and failing to properly slope or shore trenches and take appropriate action when a cave-in hazard is recognized. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The alleged serious violations were issued for failure to perform daily excavation inspections, failure to provide trained personnel in first aid response, and failure to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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