Preventable trenching tragedy earns Neb. company 5 violations
No cave-in protection
OSHA has cited Witt Plumbing Inc. for five safety violations after a worker died from injuries received when a trench collapsed at a job site in Hastings, Jan. 16. The worker was locating a sewage drain pipe at a home under construction when the unprotected trench collapsed.
Company planned to bring shoring to site
"This tragedy might have been prevented with the use of protective shoring that the company planned to bring to the job site that afternoon. All too often, compromising safety procedures has tragic consequences, and hazards like these cause numerous deaths and injuries every year," said Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha.
The two willful violations involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in an unprotected trench more than 5 feet deep and to provide a means of egress from a trench.
Additionally, three serious violations involve failing to train workers on trenching hazards, lack of a hazard communication program, and failing to have a competent person conduct trench and excavation inspections.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Due to the nature of the hazards and the willful violations cited, Witt Plumbing has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites. For more information, visit www.osha.gov/pls/oshaweb/owadisp.show_document?p_table=DIRECTIVES&p_id=4503.
OSHA has proposed fines of $157,000 as a result of the incident. The current citations may be viewed at www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Witt_Plumbing_Inc_831581_06_20_13.pdf*.