The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Kinney’s Commercial Inc. in Austin, Texas, with alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations for exposing workers to possible excavation cave-ins. Proposed penalties total $40,750.
“This employer put its workers at risk for injury or death by not implementing required safeguards to prevent excavation hazards,” said Casey Perkins, OSHA’s area director in Austin. “Employees are entitled to a safe and healthful workplace.”
OSHA’s Austin Area Office began its investigation on April 2 at the company’s worksite on West Slaughter Lane. The inspection was initiated under the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavations after an OSHA inspector observed an employee climbing down a ladder into an excavation without shoring to prevent a possible cave-in. The inspection found near vertical excavation walls to depths greater than eight feet, water accumulating in the bottom of the hole and soil sloughing off from the sides of the trench.
A willful violation was issued for failing to provide cave-in protection such as a metal trench box where the excavation walls were not sloped or benched. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
Serious violations include failing to have a competent person remove employees from the excavation site to prevent injuries from a possible cave in and to prevent water from accumulating in the excavation. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The five other-than-serious violations involve recordkeeping. The company was cited for failing to detail the nature of injuries and illnesses in the OSHA 300 log, and not having the log reviewed and signed by a company executive on an annual basis.
Kinney’s Commercial Inc., which employs about 40 workers in Austin, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director in Austin or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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