US Labor Department's OSHA intervenes to remove workers from hazardous
trench in Auburn, Ala.; cites Arizona company for endangering workers
AUBURN, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited NPL Construction Co. for two safety violations for exposing workers to excavation hazards while connecting an underground natural gas line on South College Street in Auburn. Proposed penalties total $73,000 following an April inspection.
NPL Construction is a pipeline construction company employing approximately 2,000 workers throughout the U.S., with corporate offices in Phoenix, Ariz. The company has a local office in Moody, Ala.
As OSHA inspectors were traveling to an inspection near Auburn they passed an open excavation where workers were not being protected from cave-ins. The OSHA officials stopped and opened an inspection at the NPL Construction site, and requested that the workers be removed from the trench. One of the walls of the excavation later collapsed.
A repeat violation with $66,000 in penalties was cited for failing to provide a protective system for employees working in an excavation more than 5 feet deep. A repeat violation exists 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. The company was cited in Connecticut in 2010 and Kansas in 2008 for the same violation.
A serious violation with a $7,000 penalty was cited for failing to ensure equipment is kept 2 feet from the edge of the excavation. 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.
"Disregarding workers' safety by leaving them unprotected from potential cave-in hazards is unacceptable and will not be tolerated," said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "The actions of the OSHA compliance officers likely saved the lives of these workers."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the 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. The site was inspected by OSHA's Mobile Area Office, 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1006, Mobile, Ala. 36609; telephone 251-441-6131. 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, 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 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.