A worker was buried 8 feet underground following a trench collapse and sent to the hospital for serious injuries. Moments after other workers pulled him out, the trench collapsed again.
OSHA cited the employer, Hassell Construction, for 16 safety violations including six egregious willful violations for failing to protect workers inside an excavation from a cave-in. The company faces penalties totaling $423,900.
In addition to the willful violations, Hassell was cited for nine serious violations, including failing to remove debris from the edge of the excavation. The company also did not provide a safe means to get in and out of the excavation for workers or conduct atmospheric testing inside excavations after a sewer leak.
“Trench cave-ins are preventable,” said John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas. “There are long-established, basic precautions. They’re not new, and they’re not secret. Hassell Construction knew its trenches weren’t safe, but still put its workers in harm’s way.”
OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference towards creating a safe and healthy workplace by committing willful or repeated violations, and/or failing to abate known hazards. It also mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.