Contractor Cited for Violations at Stormwater Site

June 19, 2014

OSHA cited Westwind Contracting Inc., of Pembroke Park, Fla., for one willful and two serious violations for exposing workers to safety hazards while installing concrete catch basins for stormwater along State Road 84 in Davie, Fla. OSHA began the inspection in January 2014 as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Proposed penalties total $76,300.

"Workers at this site were needlessly exposed to safety hazards on multiple occasions," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "If the excavation wall collapsed, it would have crushed the unprotected trench workers in seconds."

The $70,000 willful citation was issued to the employer for failing to provide a safe working environment for employees working in a 7-to-9-foot-deep trench without necessary safety protection. 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.

Two serious violations, with $6,300 in penalties, were cited because the employer failed to provide a safe means to enter and exit the excavation site and failed to ensure that the employees who worked at the bottom of the trench were protected from falling material or equipment. 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.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box.

Westwind Contracting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.