US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Austin, Texas, construction
company $51,000 for exposing workers to excavation and fall hazards
AUSTIN, Texas - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited S.J. Louis Construction of Texas Ltd. based in Austin with 10 alleged serious and two other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to multiple safety hazards, including a possible trench cave-in and exposure to electrical hazards at the company's Leander, Texas, worksite. Proposed penalties total $51,000.
"OSHA has specific standards to prevent trenching hazards that employers are required to follow. A trenching cave-in can quickly lead to a worker dying," said Casey Perkins, area director of OSHA's Austin Area Office. "It's the employers' responsibility to protect workers and when employers fail to do so, OSHA will cite them."
OSHA's Austin Area Office began its investigation on March 23 at the company's worksite on Trails End Road in Leander, where employees were working in a 17-foot deep excavation site that was not properly shielded or sloped to protect workers from a possible cave-in. The inspection was conducted under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.
Serious violations include failing to provide the required excavation sloping to prevent a possible cave-in, perform effective excavation inspections, provide rescue equipment for workers who were welding in confined spaces, provide the safe placement of a ladder for egress during excavation activities, provide the proper machine guarding for a rotating shaft on a piece of equipment and ensure workers were adequately protected from overhead electrical lines. A serious violation is one for which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The two other-than-serious violations involve failing to properly certify injury and illness records in the OSHA 300 log. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
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. Detailed information on scaffold hazards and safe work practices, including an interactive e-Tool, is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/scaffolding/index.html.
S.J. Louis Construction has 15 business days from receipt of citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Austin, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Employers and employees with questions about workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Austin Area Office at 512-374-0271. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (321-6742).
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 assure 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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