US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Tejas Underground Utilities for
exposing workers to excavation hazards at Houston work site
HOUSTON – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Tejas Underground Utilities LLC with one willful and one serious violation for exposing workers to excavation hazards at its work site in Houston. OSHA's Houston North Area Office began an investigation on Dec. 4 at the company's work site on Center Street under its National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavations. Proposed penalties total $59,290.
A willful violation was cited for failing to provide workers replacing a damaged 12-inch storm line in an excavation with sloping, shoring or shielding to protect them from a possible cave-in. 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.
A serious violation was cited for having excavated materials, such as dirt and rocks, within 2 feet from the edge of the excavation, material which can fall on workers. Additionally, the extra weight at the edge of an excavation could cause an unprotected excavation wall to collapse. 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.
"An excavation site can quickly turn into a grave when an employer fails to implement OSHA's standards to prevent cave-ins," said David Doucet, OSHA's area director at its Houston North office. "It is fortunate in this case that no one was injured."
Information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Magnolia, Texas-based Tejas Underground Utilities, which employs about 104 workers who specialize in underground utility construction, has 15 business days from the receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's Houston North office, or contest the citations and penalties 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), the agency's Houston North office at 281-591-2438 or its Houston South office at 281-286-0583.
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 or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 292-693-7828 or TTY 292-693-7755.