U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited two New Jersey companies for willful and repeat trenching hazards on a jobsite in New Jersey. The complaint dates from November 2012 and was the result of an “imminent danger complaint.” This type of a complaint allows OSHA to inspect a worksite immediately if the working conditions are such that they could reasonably be expected to cause death or serious physical harm immediately or before the danger can be eliminated by normal enforcement proceedings.
At the Kearny, NJ site, workers were operating in an unprotected excavation 8ft deep. This was determined by OSHA to be a willful violation, and resulted in a $28,000 penalty. Willful violations are “intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law…or plain indifference to worker safety.” In other words, the company either knows it is wrong and violates the law anyway or it simply doesn’t care if workers are severely injured or killed by the practice.Construction accidents resulting from these type of violations are not accidents, but are instead accidents waiting to happen.
The other company was cited for two repeat violations, which resulted $100,100 in penalties. This company had been cited for the same violation previously in 2008. The company had allowed workers into trenches that had not been inspected by a “competent person.”
Trenches can be extremely deadly during a collapse, and strict regulations have been in place since the 1980s to prevent such accidents, meaning companies have few excuses for noncompliance.
If you work on a site that has imminent dangers call OSHAs hotline and if there are injuries, speak with an experienced construction accident attorney.
Source: OSHA News Release, “US Labor Department’s OSHA fines two companies $130,500 for trenching hazards at Kearny, NJ, site,” June 10, 2013