Excavation Hazards Result in OSHA Fines Totaling $100,000 for Texas Worksite

An inspection conducted as part of a special emphasis program aimed at reducing trenching hazards has resulted in a hefty OSHA fine for Ramos Industries Inc. of Houston.

OSHA has proposed penalties against the company totaling $100,000 for exposing employees to trenching and excavation hazards. The OSHA citations against the company alleged one alleged willful, one serious and one repeat violation following an investigation that began Dec. 16, 2004. The investigation found that employees were working in an unprotected excavation while installing a concrete manhole at a Palmhurst, Texas, worksite.

"This is the third time this company has been cited for trenching and excavation hazards in the last year, two of which occurred in December 2004 within a two-week period," said John Giefer, OSHA Corpus Christi area director. "It is fortunate that no one was injured."

The willful citation was issued for failing to provide protection against a possible cave-in in an excavation 10- to 12-feet deep. OSHA issues a willful citation when there is evidence of the intentional violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or plain indifference to its requirements.

The serious violation involved failing to train employees in the proper method of lifting and transporting trench boxes to prevent damaging them. A serious citation is issued 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.

A single repeat violation was cited for failing to have a safe means of exiting an excavation in the event of an emergency. A violation is designated as repeat when a similar citation for the same hazard was issued in the previous three years.

Ramos Industries employs about 254 workers. The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Corpus Christi area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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