October 21, 2019
U.S. Department of Labor Cites South Florida Contractor
For Cave-in and Engulfment Hazards After Fatality
PEMBROKE PINES, FL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Westwind Contracting Inc. for exposing employees to excavation and confined spaces hazards after a fatality at a Pembroke Pines, Florida, work site. The contractor faces $185,239 in penalties.
The employee drowned after water and mud filled a catch basin in which the employee was working. OSHA cited the Pembroke Park, Florida-based engineering company for failing to protect employees working in an excavation; train employees on how to recognize hazards related to catch basins and permit-required confined spaces; and develop and implement a permit-required confined space program. OSHA also cited the contractor for exposing workers who attempted to rescue their co-worker, to engulfment hazards.
“Employers have a legal responsibility to protect and train their employees on well-known confined space and excavation hazards to avoid tragedies such as this,” said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond.
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. The webpage includes a trenching operations QuickCard that provides information on protecting employees before they enter a trench, and the “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster reminding employers to slope, shore, or shield trenches to prevent collapses.
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: 19-1725-ATL (367)
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