OSHA has proposed a total of $169,000 in fines against a Hartford contractor for exposing its workers to cave-in hazards while repairing a sewer line in a 10-foot deep trench.
OSHA inspectors found that the trench lacked any protection to prevent the walls from collapsing onto workers, a cave-in hazard that was intensified by the presence of an unsupported sidewalk and catch basin overhanging the trench. OSHA standards require that trenches or excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse through shoring, sloping of the soil, or use of a protective trench box. Even after being informed that the conditions posed an imminent danger, the contractor continued to send workers into the trench. These hazards resulted in citations for two willful violations with $140,000 in fines.
Five serious violations with $29,000 in fines involve rocks and soil falling into the trench, not testing the sewer line for hazardous atmospheres, a lack of personal protective equipment, and not adequately training the workers to recognize the hazards associated with their work.
OSHA has placed the contractor in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.