- OSHA slapped two contractors working on the downtown Austin Central Library in Austin, TX, with fines for willfully violating safety requirements to adequately protect workers on the job site. The subcontractor also received two serious violations for failing to provide necessary support for an excavation and for failing to remove workers after identifying a "hazardous condition."
- The project's main contractor, Colorado-based Hensel Phelps Construction, was fined $70,000, and Austin-based subcontractor CVI Development was fined $18,000. The citations claim the two contractors exposed their workers to potential cave-in hazards while they worked in the rain to install rebar in a 12-foot-deep trench.
- OSHA first inspected the site in March after receiving a complaint. The agency said the investigation was part of its National Emphasis Program for Trenching and Excavations.
City Council Member Greg Casar, a former policy director with the Workers Defense Project in Austin, told the Austin Monitor it was "very, very rare to see this kind of citation on a city project."
Casar added that his group had previously worked with the city of Austin to make it a "model on things like safety and worker wages" that would urge private owners to strive to meet the same standards.
OSHA's Austin area director, Casey Perkins, said in a release, "Excavation hazards are widely recognized in the construction industry and can have grave consequences when not addressed."
There has recently been increased scrutiny on job site safety and stricter punishments for contractors who put workers in danger.
Last month, New York City's Department of Buildings revealed that construction-related fatalities in Manhattan nearly doubled between June 2014 and June 2015. And earlier in August, OSHA fined a construction owner and his company $1.79 million in fines for "willfully exposing" eight workers to asbestos.