OSHA Cites La. Company for Safety Violations

A trenching and excavation fatality has resulted in citations and proposed penalties of $65,600 to a Metairie, La. construction company from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Wallace C. Drennan Inc., a water and sewer excavation contractor that employs about 107 workers, was issued citations for alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations following an OSHA inspection that began Nov. 2 at the company’s worksite on Highway 15 and Falgout Lane in Point a La Hache where an employee was installing a sewer line in a trench approximately 7 feet deep.

“If OSHA’s safety standards had been followed, it is possible that this fatality could have been avoided,” said Greg Honaker, area director in Baton Rouge.

The alleged willful violation was issued for failing to protect employees from the hazards of a cave-in while installing sewer piping at the base of a 7-foot-deep trench. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The alleged serious violation was issued for failing to adequately protect employees from working in hazardous conditions associated with trenching and excavations. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

An alleged other-than-serious violation was issued for failing to notify OSHA within eight hours of a fatality. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and or health of the employees.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area director, or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.