July 28, 2016
Houston contractor found violating serious trench hazards
for sixth time in 10 years; faces $124K in OSHA penalties
Oscar Renda Contracting ignores fatal risks in unprotected excavations
Employer name: Oscar Renda Contracting Inc.
Inspection Site: Subdivision on Shepherd Street, Houston, Texas
Citations issued: July 28, 2016
Investigation findings: The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigator witnessed workers performing trench and excavation work unsafely at a subdivision in Houston and initiated an inspection on Feb 11, 2016. As a result, the agency has cited Oscar Renda Contracting Inc. for allowing employees to work unprotected in excavations and permit required confined spaces. Without using a trench box or proper benching or sloping techniques, trench walls may collapse - crushing and burying workers. A cubic yard of soil can weigh almost 3,000 pounds, the weight of a small automobile, which makes escape difficult or impossible for workers. Each year, dozens of workers die in trench collapses and hundreds more are injured often seriously.
OSHA issued citations for one willful, 11 serious and two other violations. The willful violation was cited for exposing workers to cave-ins. The agency has investigated Oscar Renda Contracting six times in the past 10 years and cited the company each time for similar violations.
This inspection falls under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavations.
Inspectors identified the following serious violations as the company:
- Allowed unnecessary material and unsupported equipment within 2 feet of the excavation's edge.
- Failed to train employees in the safe performance of their duties.
- Did not verify that permit-required spaces were safe for entry.
- Failed to provide rescue and emergency equipment.
- Did not ensure that the required supervisor checked all appropriate entries on the permit before allowing employees to enter.
Proposed Penalties: $124,300
Quote: "Six times in 10 years, we have found Oscar Renda Contracting risking the lives of its employees in underground trenches. Imagine the fear of working below ground when thousands of pounds of soil begin to fall on you and the likelihood that you will be buried alive because your employer valued a contract more than your life," said Mark Briggs, OSHA's area director in the Houston South office. "OSHA remains firm in its commitment to hold employers accountable for their actions when fundamental common sense and humanity are not enough to make them change."
Link to the citations: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/OscarRendaContracting_1124976.pdf
Information: Headquartered in Roanoke, Texas, Oscar Renda Contracting is a national pipeline, well and wastewater construction company. The company also operates Renda Environmental and Renda Pacific. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, 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 amputations, eye loss, 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 Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.
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Release Number: 16-1554-DAL
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