This isn’t the sort of I-told-you-so moment you want to have in safety. An inspector’s take on a trench proved to be true. On the day the inspector visited the site, the trench collapsed, trapping a worker.
A Gainesville, FL, city safety inspector told management numerous times excavations at a construction site for a retention pond and pump station were unsafe.
The inspector visited the site again on Jan. 13 and refused to enter the trench because it was too dangerous. Later that day, the 15-foot deep trench partially collapsed, trapping a worker.
Gainesville Fire Rescue responded. Co-workers had already partially uncovered the worker, but they needed the help of the first responders to uncover his legs.
A fire rescue official said the first responders had to risk their own lives to save the worker because of the danger of a secondary collapse.
The worker was critically injured.
Now OSHA has issued citations to the general and sub-contractor responsible for the construction site.
General contractor R.E. Arnold Construction received one willful and two serious violations with proposed penalties of $83,000. Sub-contractor Suntree Technologies was cited for four serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $18,200.
The Arnold citations include:
- failing to provide employees working in a 15-foot-deep excavation with required protection from wall collapse hazards (willful), and
- exposing workers to dangerous safety and fall hazards by failing to provide them with hard hats and fall protection equipment (serious).
Suntree’s serious citations include:
- failing to provide fall protection for employees working at heights above 6 feet, and
- not ensuring workers wear hard hats while inside an excavations.
OSHA requires all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapse. Protection can be through shoring, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box.
The two companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to either comply, request a conference with OSHA or contest the findings before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.