US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Gordy's Pump Service
after worker killed in Spring Valley, Wis., trench collapse
RIVER FALLS, Wis. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited River Falls-based Gordy's Pump Service with five safety – including two willful – violations as the result of an inspection conducted after a 19-year-old worker died when an unprotected trench collapsed at a Spring Valley job site on Nov. 3, 2011.
The 19-year-old and one other worker had just finished locating an existing waterline in the trench using a hand-held shovel when a sidewall caved in. The trench was approximately 220 feet long, 6 feet deep and 2 feet wide. The other worker was not injured.
"Gordy's Pump Service has a responsibility to ensure that workers are properly trained and protected from known workplace hazards such as trench cave-ins, a leading cause of death and injury in excavation work," said Mark Hysell, OSHA's area director in Eau Claire. "SHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to so."
The willful violations include failing to provide required cave-in protection and a means of egress from the trench. 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.
Three serious violations include failing to ensure the use of head protection, keep spoil piles at least 2 feet back from the excavation's edge and train employees working in trenches to recognize excavation hazards. 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 standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Due to the willful violations, OSHA has placed Gordy's Pump Service in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. For more information about the program, visit http://s.dol.gov/J3.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GordysPumpService_108561_04-30-2012.pdf*.
Proposed fines for the citations total $137,000. Gordy's Pump Service has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and 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.
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 Eau Claire Area Office at 715-832-9019.
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.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.