US Labor Department's OSHA fines West Decatur, Pa., excavating company
nearly $179,000 for exposing workers to trenching hazards
Company placed in Severe Violator Enforcement Program
WEST DECATUR, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Lumadue Excavating LLC for 12 safety violations involving trenching hazards. OSHA initiated two inspections under a special emphasis program on trenching and excavation when inspectors found unprotected trenches at two different work sites-one was 7 feet deep and the other more than 5 feet deep. Proposed penalties total $178,860.
"This company continues to take unnecessary safety risks by not utilizing the safeguards needed to protect workers from trenching hazards," said Mark Stelmack, director of OSHA's Wilkes-Barre office.
Two willful violations, with $92,400 in penalties, involve failing to provide a protective system to prevent a trench cave-in. 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.
Five repeat violations, with $73,920 in penalties, involve failing to instruct workers in the recognition and avoidance of hazardous conditions, provide a safe means of egress from trenches and ensure excavations are inspected daily by a competent person. A repeat violation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. Similar violations were cited in 2008 and 2009.
Because of the nature of the hazards and the violations cited, Lumadue has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. OSHA's SVEP focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.
Additionally, three serious violations, which carry $12,540 in penalties, were cited for the lack of reflective vests for workers exposed to vehicular traffic and excavated material not farther than 2 feet from the edge of the trench. A serious citation is issued 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.
Two other-than-serious violations, carrying no penalties, involve the lack of a written hazard communication program and material safety data sheets. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Detailed information on safeguards for excavation and trenching is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Lumadue has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Wilkes-Barre, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Wilkes-Barre Area Office at 570-826-6316.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 252-693-7828 or TTY 252-693-7755.