OKLAHOMA CITY – Excavation work is among the most dangerous in the construction industry. Trenches can collapse around and atop workers, crushing and burying them quickly and sometimes fatally – which has long made trench and excavation protection a vital concern for the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA cited Cherokee Pride Construction Inc. of Sapulpa for serious violations related to excavation work. Inspectors arrived at a Broken Arrow job site in September 2020 and found employees in standing water as they installed water lines in two trenches as part of a street widening project. OSHA determined the company failed to ensure required cave-in protection was used, an appropriate means of escape existed and that workers wore hard hats, as required.
OSHA cited the company for two willful, four repeat and three serious violations, and has proposed penalties totaling $205,500. The agency cited the company three times in 2017 for failing to provide trench workers personal protective equipment, a means of escape and hazard recognition training, allowing standing water inside the excavation sites, and failing to fix ladder defects.
“OSHA recognizes the incidents of workers seriously hurt from trenching and excavation hazards,” said OSHA Area Director Steven A. Kirby in Oklahoma City. “The agency’s national emphasis program on trenching and excavation focuses its resources on preventing the potential for collapses.”
OSHA’s Trenching and Excavation page provides various resources to protect workers in trenches, including a posters, stickers, alerts, flyers and a video, 5 Things You Should Know To Stay Safe.
Cherokee Pride Construction has 15 business days from receipt of citation and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. Learn more about OSHA.