April 29, 2015
Colorado utility installers expose workers to possible trench collapse
K.R. Swerdfeger Construction Inc. and Pate Construction Co. Inc. cited for failing to provide
cave-in protections; proposed fines top $101K
Employer name: K.R. Swerdfeger Construction Inc. and Pate Construction Co. Inc.
Inspection sites: Pueblo and Penrose, Colorado
Date inspection initiated and what prompted the inspection: The Occupational Safety and Health Administration began its inspections in March under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenches. The Swerdfeger inspection in Pueblo was prompted by a complaint and the Pate inspection in Penrose began after an OSHA compliance officer observed an unprotected trench.
Investigation findings: OSHA cited Swerdfeger for one willful violation, with a penalty of $49,500, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins. OSHA also issued one serious violation, with a penalty of $2,700, for placing workers in a trench more than 4 feet deep without a safe exit. Pate was also cited for one willful violation, with a penalty of $49,000, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins.
Total proposed penalties: $101,200
Quote: "A trench cave-in happens so quickly a worker has no time to react, and the results are often fatal," said David Nelson, OSHA's area director in Englewood, Colorado. "Shoring trench walls for support is not a new practice in the construction industry, yet both of these employers chose to ignore this commonsense safety system."
Information: The utility installation employer 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.
For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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Release Number: 15-767-DEN
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