A Florida engineering company is facing $185,239 in OSHA-assessed penalties after one of its employees drowned in a water- and mud-filled catch basin at a worksite in Pembroke Pines, Florida.

OSHA cited Westwind Contracting Inc. for exposing its employees to excavation and confined spaces hazards.

The violations

According to the agency, the company failed to:

  • protect employees working in an excavation
  • train employees on how to recognize hazards related to catch basins and permit-required confined spaces
  • develop and implement a permit-required confined space program.

OSHA also cited the contractor for exposing workers who attempted to rescue their co-worker to engulfment hazards.

“Employers have a legal responsibility to protect and train their employees on well-known confined space and excavation hazards to avoid tragedies such as this,” said OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Director Condell Eastmond.

Resources are available

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The webpage includes a trenching operations QuickCard that provides information on protecting employees before they enter a trench, and the “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster reminding employers to slope, shore, or shield trenches to prevent collapses.