Greenwood Village-based Pipeline Industries Inc. has recently been cited with seven violations for exposing workers to various cave-in dangers at work sites in Colorado. These violations come with proposed fines of more than $180,000, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
An August and a September investigation by OSHA officials was the result of various reports indicating that employees were putting in sewer pipelines without having the proper safety measures set up in the area.
Our Boulder workers’ compensation attorneys understand that there were nearly 300 people killed in excavation and trenching cave-in accidents from 2000 through 2006. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), most of these accidents occur among workers who are employees by companies who employ fewer than 50 employees.
Two of the citations were willful violations. The company was cited for neglecting to provide the work site with the proper safety measures and for failing to have someone on site that could recognize hazards and remove employees as needed.
They were handed two additional serious violations because the company failed to keep information for the use of the shoring systems and for neglecting to provide safe egress and access to the trench.
That’s not all! There were three repeat violations that the company got because it failed to make sure that the spoil pile was placed in the proper area and two different work sites and for failing to fix two ladders that had been damaged.
“A trench can quickly become a grave when an employer fails to protect workers from a trenching or excavation cave-in,” said David Nelson, OSHA area director.
OSHA’s current standards cover all excavation jobs that are 5 feet under the ground or deeper.
In excavation projects, the most dangerous and most common accidents that happen are the result of cave-ins. Still, workers need to be cautious when doing other work on the job site, including handling electricity, working near moving traffic, handling materials and working with underground utilities.
Employees are required to assess each job before starting and to make sure that workers are provided with the proper safety protection to complete the job safely and with as minimal hazards as possible.