Brocato Construction, Batesville, Miss., has been cited by OSHA with two willful and one serious safety violation following an inspection of two trenches where workers were relocating gas and water lines along state Highway 305 in Olive Branch, Miss. Proposed penalties total $117,600.
The willful violations involve failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in one trench more than 5 feet deep and another trench that was 8 feet deep. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
The serious violation involves exposing employees to struck-by and cave-in hazards by not providing a ladder to enter and exit the excavation. A serious violation occurs 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.
"An unguarded trench can collapse and bury workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Clyde Payne, OSHA's area director in Jackson, Miss. "The employer is aware of OSHA's safety standards with regard to excavation and trenching, but chose to put employees' lives at risk by having them work in an unprotected trench."