Cave-in Protection Violations Land Plumbing Company In Severe Violator Program
Cave-in protection violations resulted in a Chicago-based plumbing company to be placed on the Severe Violator Program. OG Plumbing LLC, was recently cited by the United States Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for one serious, one willful, and three repeat violations.
OSHA initially conducted an inspection of an OG Plumbing work site in Chicago, on March 10th, 2016, and observed a four-man crew installing water lines in a six-foot trench, without cave-in protection. This initial violation prompted a citation from the agency, which was issued on April 25, 2016, for one willful violation. The proposed penalty for this citation was $69,300.
OSHA’s trenching standards require cave-in protection systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet and that soil and other materials remain at least two feet from the edge of trench. In the following weeks, OSHA conducted follow-up inspections of two separate OG Plumbing worksites in Oak Park, on March 28th and 29th, respectively. The two inspections yielded the following observations:
• Employees were working at 1036 Washington Blvd., in a five-foot trench, without cave-in protection, and were not wearing hard hats
• Employees were working at 1035 Randolph St., in a six and one-half foot trench, without cave-in protection or a means to enter or exit the trench
As a result of the repeat violations processed, at multiple inspections, OSHA has placed OG Plumbing LLC in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). SVEP focuses on those employers who are repeatedly non-compliant with OSHA standards and who are reticent to abate those process which are in violation. The primary effort of this program is to ensure the safety of employees who may be under the instruction of recalcitrant employers. One notable stipulation of the program is that OSHA has the right to conduct an inspection of any of the violating company’s facilities without foreword, if they suspect any violation may be underway.
OSHA Chicago North area director, Angeline Loftus, said, “After being told by an investigator to protect workers against trench cave-in hazards, OG Plumbing returned to work the next day and exposed the same crew to the potential threat of being buried by thousands of pounds of soil by working in an unprotected trench. Each year, dozens of workers die and hundreds suffer injuries when soil unexpectedly shifts and trench walls collapse, burying them in mere seconds. OG Plumbing needs to evaluate its job site procedures immediately to ensure they use required protective systems. These can be the difference between life and death.”
One useful tool for employers who manage work sites with potentially hazardous materials or work conditions is an OSHA-approved on-site mock inspection