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PA Contractor Fined $200K for Excavation Violations

Friday, March 15, 2019

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The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last week that it has cited a Pennsylvania company for exposing employees to excavation hazards. The company, Warminster-based Etna Construction Inc., now faces fines to the tune of $208,560.

What Happened

The citation stems from an August 2018 inspection that was prompted by a complaint, according to records.

The agency found that the company failed to install protective systems inside the excavation area, provide a safe means of exit from the excavation area, correct excavation deficiencies and instruct employees on recognizing excavation hazards.

Ed Brown, public domain, via Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last week that it has cited a Pennsylvania company for exposing employees to excavation hazards. The company, Warminster-based Etna Construction Inc., now faces fines to the tune of $208,560.

The employer also failed to ensure employees wore hardhats to prevent head injuries and did not properly guard protruding reinforced steel, according to OSHA.

“Employees can be seriously or fatally injured in a matter of seconds when a trench collapses,” said OSHA Philadelphia Area Office Director Theresa Downs. “Trench-related injuries are preventable when employees are trained properly, and the required protections are in place.”

The firm has had six violations in the past five years, and still owes $10,365 in related to a fall-specific inspection in May of last year.

OSHA Enforcement

Officials have been cracking down on trench and excavation violations over the past year.

In October, OSHA released an update to its National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses. The update was in response to a recent uptick in trenching fatalities, the agency said at the time, and aimed to increase education and enforcement efforts, which include its inspectors recording trenching and excavation inspections in a national reporting system, and the development of outreach programs.

The DOL as a whole committed to reducing excavation and trenching hazards back in March 2018, when the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics released numbers that showed excavation and trenching fatalities in 2016 were nearly double the average of the previous two years combined.

In addition, some state agencies have taken extra steps, most notably the release of a hazard alert by Kentucky’s Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation Program—a group from the Kentucky Department for Public Health and the University of Kentucky, funded by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

And, in the beginning of last year, Washington cracked down by filing felony charges against a contractor for an employee’s death for the first time in the state’s history.

   

Tagged categories: Department of Labor; Health & Safety; Health and safety; NA; North America; OSHA; OSHA; Safety

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