For the second time in a week, OSHA has issued a significant six-figure fine against a construction company based in Texas.
Hassell Construction Co. Inc. faces $423,900 in fines in connection with a trench collapse in Richmond, TX, that seriously injured a worker.
The trench was eight feet deep and unprotected, according to OSHA. After it caved in, the trapped employee’s co-workers used their bare hands to dig him out. Moments after they pulled the injured man to safety, the unprotected trench collapsed again.
OSHA issued 16 violations to Hassel, including:
- 6 egregious (per-instance) willful violations for failing to protect workers in an excavation from a cave-in
- failure to remove debris from the edge of the excavation (serious)
- failure to provide a safe means to get in and out of the excavation for workers (serious), and
- failure to conduct atmospheric testing inside excavations after a sewer leak (serious).
“For more than 2,500 years, man has known how to prevent deadly trench collapses,” said OSHA chief David Michaels. “It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches.”
OSHA has also placed Hassel in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which requires follow-up inspections.
Hassel has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or appeal to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
On the same day it fined Hassel, OSHA also issued citations to Cotton Commercial USA Inc. totaling $362,500 for violations in connection with an employee’s 12-foot fall through a roof that left him hospitalized. The citations included four egregious willful citations for employees engaged in roofing who didn’t have fall protection.