Florida Exavator Fined $51K for Trench Violations

July 25, 2012

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ditchdiggers of Fort Pierce, Fla., for two trenching violations while workers were installing a new section of a sewer drain at 4820 S. U.S. Route 1 and E. Midway Road in White City, Fla. Proposed penalties total $51,590.

One willful violation is failing to have provided workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in a trench more than 5 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.

One serious violation is failing to have provided a competent person on-site to monitor deteriorating trench conditions. 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.

“Although the employer took a trench box to the work site, he chose not to use it and knowingly put employees’ lives in danger by having them work in an unprotected trench,” said Les Grove, OSHA’s acting area director in Fort Lauderdale. “It is the employer’s responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees.”

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.