- OSHA has cited a Dallas, Georgia, contractor with exposing its workers to trenching hazards and has proposed $106,078 in penalties.
- The agency said Corley Contractors, operating as C&L Contractors, was executing a water and sewer line project in Acworth, Georgia, in October 2018, when OSHA investigators saw the firm’s employees working in a trench that did not have a protective cave-in system or a safe means of entry and exit.
- OSHA cited Corley with two willful violations, each carrying a penalty of $53,039. Corley has 15 days from the citation’s issuance date of March 19 to contest the violations and fine.
OSHA said it conducted the investigation as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program (NEP) on Trenching and Excavation. Under the NEP, OSHA inspectors increase enforcement at excavation and trenching jobsites. Since these types of projects can begin and end quickly, the agency has a strategy for catching violations before contractors pack up and move on.
As part of the NEP guidelines, investigators are directed to inspect any open trench or open excavation they might encounter, even if they don’t observe a violation at first glance. Inspectors are supposed to get a supervisor’s approval to conduct an inspection, but if they can’t reach an area office, they are authorized to proceed with an inspection anyway as long as the inspector doesn’t have a higher priority. Normally, inspectors will limit the scope of these types of inspections to potential employee safety and health hazards, but they are allowed to dig deeper if they believe it is warranted.
OSHA inspectors are also directed to keep an eye out for open and unprotected trenches and excavations when they are inspecting construction sites for other reasons.
Other NEPs include those that focus on combustible dust, hazardous machinery and lead.
Local OSHA offices also have their own Regional Emphasis Programs and Local Emphasis Programs, so contractors can expect increased inspections related to other safety hazards as well. In Region 1, for instance, which includes Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Vermont, inspectors have been instructed to keep a specific eye out for hazards related to cranes, falls and residential construction.
On the other hand, in Region 5, which includes Illinois, Indiana, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin, inspectors are currently paying special attention to building demolition, renovations and rehab projects; fall hazards; high-rise construction; and powered industrial vehicles.