"Employees should not be exposed to the dangers of excavation hazards," said Eric S. Harbin, OSHA's area director in Austin, in a press statement announcing that OSHA has cited Austin-based Key Enterprises Inc. with four serious and two repeat violations of safety standards at the company's worksite in Dripping Springs, Texas.
Proposed penalties total $50,000.
OSHA's Austin Area Office began its investigation on Sept. 22, 2008 at the company's worksite along Highway 290 West in Dripping Springs. The investigation found serious violations including the company's failure to position a ladder within 25 feet of workers in the trench; to remove objects that could have fallen into the excavation and to test the atmosphere for possible gases that may have been present. A serious violation exists when 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 two repeat violations were for failing to ensure employees were adequately protected from cave-ins and to remove workers from a worksite with known excavation hazards. A repeat violation is defined as a violation that previously was cited where, upon re-inspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
OSHA previously cited Key Enterprises in July 2007 and again in July 2008 for similar violations. Combined penalties were $5,875.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Austin or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Austin-area employers and employees with questions about safety and health can call 512-374-0271. They can also use OSHA's hotline number at 800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities or imminent dangers.