US Labor Department's OSHA cites Etters, Pa., construction company
for exposing workers to trenching hazards following fatality
ETTERS, Pa. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Eclipse Builders Inc. in Etters with three willful violations for exposing employees to trenching hazards after a trenching accident caused the death of one worker and the serious injury of another in December 2010.
OSHA initiated an investigation following the accident that occurred when two employees were installing storm water pipes in a trench that was approximately 60 feet long and 18-20 feet deep without trench protection, such as a trench box or proper sloping. The trench wall collapsed, resulting in a fatality and the entrapment of another employee, who was rescued approximately five hours after the initial collapse.
Violations include the company's failure to provide a safe means of egress in trench excavations that were greater than 4 feet in depth and would require employees to travel no more than 25 feet laterally; provide protection by placing and keeping excavated or other materials or equipment at least 2 feet away from the edge of excavations; protect employees entering excavations from cave-ins with an adequate protective system; have a competent person conduct daily inspections of excavations, adjacent areas and protective systems to prevent the possibility of cave-ins, failure of protective systems, hazardous atmospheres or other hazardous conditions; and provide training to employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions applicable to the work environment. 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.
"This tragic incident did not have to happen," said Kevin Kilp, director of OSHA's Harrisburg Area Office. "Excavating is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction operations, so it is vital that the company immediately comply with the OSHA standards designed to protect workers from these kinds of hazards."
For more information on safeguards designed to protect workers from excavation hazards, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Proposed penalties total $168,000. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Harrisburg office; telephone 717-782-3902. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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, 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 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.