Jan. 07, 2015
Worker's death at Fort Bragg, North Carolina, leads to
willful and serious violations for Tekton Construction Co.
Contractor's disregard of safety standards leads to fatal trench collapse
Rescue personnel were unable to save a 22-year-old worker after a fatal trench cave-in at Fort Bragg, N.C
© Fayetteville Observer
FORT BRAGG, N.C. – 'Clyde Nettles Jr. was in an unprotected trench reconnecting drainpipes at Fort Bragg on July 24, 2014, when, without warning, the walls collapsed around him and another worker. The other worker was able to escape uninjured, but 22-year-old Nettles was not.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the incident and has cited Tekton Construction Co. for two willful and two serious safety violations. The tragedy occurred while Tekton workers were digging trenches and installing drainpipes at an ammunition supply point.
"Tekton was well aware of the dangers associated with entering unprotected trenches, yet the company disregarded OSHA standards. Sadly, a young man was killed as a result, " said Kim Morton, director of OSHA's Raleigh Area Office. "His life could have been saved and this incident prevented if the company put proper safeguards in place to protect its workers. "
Willful citations were issued to Tekton for not providing cave-in protection to employees working in a trench and not providing safe means to enter and exit the trench. OSHA requires that for every 25 feet of length of a trench, a safe exit must be installed. In this case, three of the trenches were longer than 62 feet without exits installed. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
OSHA also requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle, or by using a protective trench box. OSHA has created a National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.
Tekton also received serious citations for not providing protective hard hats to employees inside trenches and for failure to train workers to identify and avoid hazardous working 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.
OSHA proposes that Tekton be placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program for demonstrating indifference to its OSH Act obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.
Current citations can be viewed at https://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/TektonConstructionCo_986804.pdf*.
Tekton faces $123,200 in proposed penalties. The company, which specializes in heavy equipment operation, excavating and construction, has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data from the preliminary Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries shows fatal work injuries in North Carolina accounted for 104 of the 4,405 fatal work injuries* reported nationally in 2013. Additional details are available at http://www.bls.gov.
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 Raleigh Area Office at 919-790-8096.
The North Carolina Department of Labor exercises jurisdiction over all private and public sector employers and employees within the state, with the exception of federal employees, U.S. Postal Service, private sector maritime activities, employment on Indian reservations, railroad employment, enforcement on military bases and the American Red Cross, which are subject to federal OSHA jurisdiction.
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.
Release Number: 14-2328-ATL (9)
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The department's Reasonable Accommodation Resource Center converts departmental information and documents into alternative formats, which include Braille and large print. For alternative format requests, please contact the department at (202) 693-7828 (voice) or (800) 877-8339 (federal relay).
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.