Region 6 News Release: OSHA-02-90
Fri., June 7, 2002
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
Failure to Protect Workers in Trenches Brings Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc., Houston, Texas, $142,000 in Proposed OSHA Fines
DALLAS -- Williams Brothers Construction Co., Inc., in Houston faces eight alleged safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $142,000 for failing to provide adequate shoring and training at an excavation site.
The alleged violations were discovered during an inspection that began Dec. 7, 2001. Williams Brothers was cited for four serious violations and four repeat safety violations.
The four alleged serious violations were for failing to provide crane operator training, failing to keep employees clear of suspended loads and failing to brace or shore adjoining buildings, walls or structures during excavation operations. Additionally, the employer suspended and operated a backhoe from a crane, a safety violation. A serious violation is one in which could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The four alleged repeat violations were for failing to keep excavated materials and equipment at least two feet back from the edge of the excavation site, failing to have the excavation, adjacent areas, and protective systems inspected by a competent person, failing to protect employees from cave-ins with an adequate protective system; and failing to reinforce protruding steel not guarded against the hazard of impalement. A repeat violation is one in which the employer has been cited, during the past three years, for substantially similar infractions of the law.
"An excavation or trenching area can be one of the most hazardous operations on a construction site," said John H. Lawson, OSHA Houston north area director. "Adhering to OSHA standards regarding the proper sloping, shoring and shielding of an excavation site can save lives."
Williams Brothers, a highway and bridge construction company, has construction sites across the U.S. and employs about 1,800 workers nationwide.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the nearest OSHA office. OSHA's toll-free hotline may be used to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing imminent danger to workers. The number is 1-800-321-6742.
The company has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the area director, or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov.