The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration recently cited Sioux Falls-based Midwest Excavating LLC, responding to complaints by employees who were digging a trench. The employees’ alleged that they were working in a trench where they were inadequately protected.
Two violations cited
OSHA cited the company with one willful and one serious citation with an accompanying fine of $58,343. According to the report:
- The trench was over five feet deep, and OSHA requires protective systems in place to ensure worker safety.
- There was the presence of water on the job site, which increases the chances of cave-ins.
Ways to protect workers
OSHA has updated its site to provide suggestions for how employers can keep employees safe. In this case, it offers five ways for those digging trenches or excavations to be safe:
- Have a safe entrance and exit for workers.
- Trenches must have cave-in protection.
- Keep work materials away from the edge of the trench.
- Look for standing water.
- Never enter a trench unless it has been inspected for safety.
The company should consider itself lucky
The price tag for the violations was high, but Midwest Excavation is lucky that no one was hurt. If someone was injured or killed in an accident caused by negligence, the company would have likely faced a personal injury lawsuit that would have cost it much much more money. Moreover, management at a company would have lived with the guilt that a company focusing on excavation should have known better than to violate these safety procedures.