As employees of Hurtdao Construction set to work on an excavation site in Katy, Texas this August, they were exposed a number of hazards that could have put their lives in serious danger. What's more, this wasn't the first time their employer had sacrificed the safety of its workforce.
The construction company now faces one serious and four repeat violations for failing to comply with the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) regulations, after OSHA inspectors visited the trench site as part of the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. The associated fines total more than $86,000.
The serious violation was issued for Hurtado's failure to provide adequate protection as employees were working in excavation areas with accumulated water.
OSHA inspectors also cited the Richmond, Texas-based construction company for the following repeat violations:
- failing to provide a safe means of egress
- failing to provide adequate cave-in protection
- failing to inspect an excavation prior to the start of work
- failing to provide protection from excavated materials.
"A trench cave-in can take a life in a matter of seconds. Repeatedly exposing workers to trenching hazards without adequate protections is unconscionable," said Joann Figueroa, OSHA's area director in the Houston North office in a statement. "OSHA's standards must be followed to prevent workers from being harmed."
Regarding Hurtado's repeat violations, OSHA standards require contractors to provide employees a safe means of exiting all trenches four feet or deeper. To ensure compliance, employers should establish ladders, steps, ramps or other safe means of egress within 25 feet of all workers. To protect employees from cave-ins, OSHA recommends keeping heavy equipment away from trench edges, as well as installing protective systems, such as sloping, benching, shoring or shielding.
For assistance developing a site specific safety plan to reduce your employees exposure to hazards and ensure your firm's OSHA compliance, contact Safety Advantage today.