OSHA fines St Louis contractor for trench hazards

ConDig (22-July-19).  The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has fined a St Louis-based contractor $212,158 for exposing employees to trench engulfment hazards as they installed concrete storm water pipes on a project in St Louis, Missouri.

The agency said that it cited R.V. Wagner Inc., which is based in Affton, for two willful violations for failing to use a trench box or other trench protection techniques in an excavation greater than five feet in depth and to provide a safe means to exit the excavation.

It also cited the company for three serious violations for allowing soil and other excavated material within 2 feet of an open trench, failing to ensure daily inspections of worksites by a competent person and exposing employees to struck-by hazards by allowing employees to work near and under lifted loads without hard hats.

“Employers must ensure that employees enter trenches only after adequate protections are in place to address cave-in hazards,” said OSHA St. Louis area director Bill McDonald in St. Louis. 

“A trench collapse can happen in just seconds, potentially burying employees under thousands of pounds of soil and causing severe injury.”

Last month, OSHA fined two Florida-based contractors $87,327 after a worker fell to their death on a construction project in Miami. The agency said that it cited GA&L Construction Corp. Inc. and The Rinaldi Group of Florida LLC for failing to protect employees from fall hazards.

It also fined a Florida contractor in May $26,142 after a worker fell to their death on a project in Naples.The agency said that remodeling contractor Stettinius Construction Inc failed to provide fall protection system, train employees on ladder safety and identify potential fall hazards that allowed employees to use a portable ladder that did not extend above the landing.

In April, OSHA fined a Berlin Heights, Ohio-based construction company $56,828 after an employee fell 26-foot on a construction worksite in Gainesville, Florida.

A 2016 Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries from the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) released in December showed that the rate of fatal injuries in the construction industry increased 6% in 2016 to 991 worker deaths compared with 937 in 2015.

BLS figures showed that falls, struck by objects, electrocutions and caught-in/between accounted for 63.7% of all construction worker deaths in last year. There was a rise in total construction worker deaths for each of the “Fatal Four” in 2016.