U.S. Department of Labor Cites Missouri Contractor For Exposing Employees to Trench Engulfment Hazards
ST. LOUIS, MO – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited R.V. Wagner Inc. – based in Affton, Missouri – for exposing employees to trench engulfment hazards as they installed concrete storm water pipes on Stable Road in St. Louis, Missouri. OSHA proposed penalties of $212,158 for violations of its trench safety standards.
OSHA cited two willful violations for failing to use a trench box or other trench protection techniques in an excavation greater than five feet in depth and to provide a safe means to exit the excavation.
“Employers must ensure that employees enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald in St. Louis, Missouri. “A trench collapse can happen in just seconds, potentially burying employees under thousands of pounds of soil and causing severe injury.”
OSHA also cited R.V. Wagner for three serious violations for allowing soil and other excavated material within 2 feet of an open trench, failing to ensure daily inspections of worksites by a competent person, and exposing employees to struck-by hazards by allowing employees to work near and under lifted loads without hard hats.
OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides information on trenching hazards and solutions. Additional information is available in OSHA’s construction hazards prevention videos on trenching and soil classification.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 help 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 https://www.osha.gov.