OSHA Cites Firm in Ohio Trench Fatality

December 16, 2004

Reynolds Inc., headquartered in Orleans, Ind., is facing $110,000 in fines proposed by the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a fatal trenching accident in June in Mason, Ohio, where an employee was struck by a bucket that became disengaged from a “quick coupling” device used to attach the bucket to excavating equipment.

OSHA issued serious, willful and repeat citations to Reynolds including an alleged willful violation for failure to adequately protect workers from cave-in hazards, and an alleged serious violation for failure to properly train workers about trenching hazards.

A serious citation was issued for failure to ensure that the bucket attached to excavating equipment would not become disengaged due to the absence of fail safe coupling devices, secondary safety devices, or assurance of proper connection through compliance with all manufacturers’ requirements for inspection and maintenance of the device.

A quick coupling device can be used to attach a bucket to the arm of excavating equipment, but must be thoroughly tested and inspected before it is put into use. The June 10 fatality at the Reynolds worksite occurred when the bucket of a hydraulic excavator became detached and fell into an excavation, striking an employee who was laying pipe.

OSHA has reportedly noted an increase in such incidents. The agency’s bulletin “Hazards of Unintended Release of Buckets from Quick Couplers on Hydraulic Excavators” (SHIB 08-26-2004) provides additional detail on the hazards associated with this equipment. It is available on OSHA’s Web site at www.osha.gov. (Click on “Safety and Health Information Bulletins” within the index under “S.”)

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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