OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Utility Contractors of America (UCA) in Wolforth, Texas, for three alleged safety violations and proposed penalties of $101,500, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
UCA employs about 75 workers, 12 of whom were working at a trench site on Olsen and Western Streets in Amarillo, Texas.
The alleged violations were discovered during an unprogrammed inspection which began Feb. 1 as a part of an OSHA national and local emphasis program on trenching.
UCA was cited for two willful and one serious violation. One of the willful citations was for not providing protection by placing and keeping excavated or other materials or equipment at least two feet from the edge of the excavation, or by the use of retaining devices that were sufficient to prevent materials or equipment from falling or rolling into the excavation site. The other willful citation was for not protecting each employee in the excavation from cave-ins by not properly shoring, sloping or benching the excavation.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
"This employer was aware of OSHA's trenching standards and the types of hazards associated with this kind of work," said Ed Cosgrove, OSHA area director in Lubbock. "Once a collapse begins, there is generally no way or time to escape from the earth's crushing blow."
The serious citation was for not safeguarding employees to hazards associated with an exposed natural gas utility line. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The Lubbock OSHA area office has developed a local emphasis program to address unsafe construction work sites. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the OSHA Lubbock office at (806) 472-7681 or in Texas at (800) 692-4202. Detailed information and resources on excavation safety are available on OSHA's Internet website at www.osha.gov by clicking on the following lines: "Outreach", "Construction", "Construction Topics", "Trenching and Excavation".
Utility Contractors of America has 15 working days, from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal hearing with the Lubbock area director, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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