OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration, Fort Worth area office, cited TGR Constructors of Bedford, Texas, for an alleged willful violation of a fatal excavation accident excavation in Lewisville and proposed penalties totaling $35,000 for the alleged violation, announced the U.S. Department of Labor.
"Collapse protection is essential since the sides of a trench can collapse with great force and without warning, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape," said Dean Wingo, OSHA Fort Worth area director, of the accident that occurred on Dec. 30, 1999.
An employee of TGR Constructors was trapped by a trench wall cave-in and died during the rescue attempt by the local fire departments. "An OSHA compliance officer returned to the same job site of the fatality and observed employees working in an unprotected trench exposing them to potential cave-in or collapse," Wingo said.
OSHA's excavation safety standard requires that excavations five feet or deeper must have a protective system in place to prevent cave-ins. Such protection can be supplied by shoring the trench's sidewalls or by sloping those sidewalls at a shallow angle. Wingo noted, neither safeguard was properly in place or in use in the excavation at the time of the two inspections.
OSHA defines a "willful" violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the law's regulations. It is the most severe category of OSHA violation. The company is being cited for allowing employees to work in a trench that was neither properly sloped nor shored or otherwise protected from cave-ins.
Employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards are urged to contact the OSHA area office in Fort Worth. Additionally , there is an OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline - 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -that may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
TRG Constructors has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with the citations, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
(Editors note: TGR Contractors, Ruben Garza, president and Ted Geyman, vice president; (972) 313-3601.)
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