Personal Injury

OSHA cites Montgomery company for trench cave-in hazards

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A regional office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Montgomery, Alabama, construction firm with penalties for exposing its workers to serious cave-in hazards while laying water pipe in a trench on Perry Hill Road in Montgomery.

According to OSHA, inspectors cited the company , Dubose Construction Co., LLC, $46,200 for one willful safety violation for allowing its workers to work in an unprotected trench that was more than 7 feet deep.

“The lack of cave-in protection at this worksite leaves Dubose Construction employees at risk of injury or death,” said Kurt Petermeyer, OSHA’s area director in Mobile. “Trenching and excavation contractors must abide by OSHA’s construction standards to ensure their employees are protected while digging trenches.”

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. According to OSHA, unprotected trench collapses cause dozens of fatalities and hundreds of injuries each year. The fatality rate for excavation work is 112 percent higher than the rate for general construction.

While cave-ins are generally the most-feared trenching hazard, other potentially fatal hazards exist, including asphyxiation due to lack of oxygen in a confined space, inhalation of toxic fumes, and drowning. Fatal electrocution or explosions also can occur when workers contact underground utilities.

Dubose Construction was penalized an additional $770 for improperly keeping injury and illness records.

OSHA recently fined a Dothan construction and excavation company more than $159,000 after finding numerous safety violations at a worksite in Enterprise. Investigators found that safety violations on the jobsite directly caused the cave-in death of one worker and the hospitalization of another who was seriously injured.

The following video filmed by an OSHA inspector at a jobsite in Oregon illustrates the dangers of not following federal and state rules for properly shoring trench walls.