OSHA has cited Gulf Coast Utility Contractors LLC with two willful and two serious safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $106,400 for exposing workers to a cave-in and other hazards while they were installing underground utilities at a job site in Panama City Beach.
One OSHA inspection was initiated in December 2012 after its inspectors observed hazards while passing the work site. Another inspection began in February 2013 after additional trenching hazards were found at the same project in a different area. These inspections were part of the agency's national emphasis program on trenching. Two willful violations, with $98,000 in proposed penalties, involve failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while working in a trench greater than 5 feet in depth.
Two serious violations, with penalties totaling $8,400, were cited because the employer failed to provide hard hats or a ladder to workers entering and exiting the excavation, thus exposing them to struck-by and fall hazards. "This employer is aware of OSHA's standards regarding excavation and trenching, but put its employees' lives at risk, causing them to work in an unprotected trench," said Jeff Romeo, acting director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "Risking the safety of workers is an irresponsible business decision."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.