January 16, 2020
U.S. Department of Labor Cites Plumbing Contractor for Exposing Employees to Hazards After Fatal Trench Collapse in Mississippi
TAYLOR, MS – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Rhobina Electric Inc. – a commercial electrical and plumbing contractor based in Batesville, Mississippi – for exposing employees to excavation hazards after a worker suffered fatal injuries in a trench collapse at a Taylor, Mississippi, worksite. The contractor faces $37,318 in penalties.
The employee was installing sewer pipe to a new concrete manhole when the collapse occurred. OSHA cited the company for allowing employees to work in a trench without hard hats and cave-in protection, and for not removing workers from a trench that showed signs of water intrusion and possible collapse. OSHA also cited the contractor for failing to meet the reporting requirement, which mandates that employers notify OSHA within eight hours of any incident involving an employee fatality.
"This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had followed the law and sloped, shored or shielded the trench walls to prevent a collapse," said OSHA Area Director Courtney Bohannon, in Jackson, Mississippi. "Before allowing workers to enter a trench, employers are required to install proper safety measures."
OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses. OSHA's trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a trenching operations QuickCard, and a "Protect Workers in Trenches" poster.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 help 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 https://www.osha.gov.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.
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Release Number: 20-36-ATL (18)
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