LINCOLN, Neb. — Taylor's Drain and Sewer Service has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for 10 safety violations, including two willful. OSHA found that the company failed to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at two separate jobs sites in Lincoln, leading to a worker suffering a serious injury. OSHA has proposed penalties of $194,000.
On March 22 at 5600 S. 90th St., a worker was buried waist-deep when a trench approximately 9-feet-deep collapsed, and he required surgery to recover from his injuries. And on April 11 at a separate job site located at 4530 Adams St., two other workers were observed in a 10-foot-deep trench without protection. Taylor's Drain and Sewer Service Inc. was installing water and sewer lines at both locations in Lincoln.
"Cave — ins are the leading cause of injury and death during excavations," said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. "Taylor Drain and Sewer Service failed to provide basic safety precautions, which led to the serious injury of one of its workers. This employer had no excuse for noncompliance."
At 5600 S. 90th St. job site, the company was cited for six serious violations, including failing to: develop and implement a written hazardous communication program, provide workers with hazard recognition training, protect workers from exposed underground utilities, provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work, provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry and provide trench cave-in protection. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known existed.
During OSHA's inspection at the 4530 Adams St. job site, two willful and two serious violations were cited. The willful violations involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in a trench more than 5-feet-deep and to provide a competent person for trench inspection prior to worker entry. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement or plain indifference to employee safety and health. The two serious violations cited include failing to provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work and to protect workers from struck-by hazards, including spoil piles of soil placed less than two feet from the edge of the trench. Only two workers were at this job site.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5-feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TaylorsDrain_897301_0912_13.pdf and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TaylorsDrain_900012_0912_13.pdf.
OSHA has placed Taylor's Drain and Sewer Services Inc. in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program as a result of these inspections. The program mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Omaha, Neb., office at 402-553-0171.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.