U.S. Department of Labor
Jan. 9, 2017
to excavation hazards at high school construction site
Contractor faces $197K in fines after complaint leads to inspection
The citations - issued on Dec. 20, 2016 - follow an OSHA inspection at Verona High School in Verona on June 22, 2016, where the agency found that Landtek allowed its workers to enter and work in an unprotected, 10-foot deep excavation that had no protective systems in place, as required. Landtek is the general contractor for site improvements at Verona High School, including the construction of new tennis courts and synthetic turf fields.
"Without needed protections in place, an excavation can quickly become a grave as thousands of pounds of soil collapse upon workers below ground. The Landtek Group must re-examine its safety procedures and take all available precautions - including installing shoring or other means - to prevent unexpected movement or collapses of the soil that can lead to disaster," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office.
The contractor was cited with a willful violation for exposing workers to cave-in hazards because the excavation lacked proper cave-in protection or safeguards.
OSHA cited serious violations related to Landtek's failure to prevent employee exposures to fall, atmospheric and explosion hazards. The company also failed to:
- Have a competent person inspect the excavation.
- Have a written permit space program.
- Train employees on safely performing their job duties and the hazards associated with them.
- Coordinate rescue and emergency services for workers entering a sewer manhole.
- Provide mechanical retrieval equipment in case of an emergency.
The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. The trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of trench.
To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Parsippany office at 973-263-1003.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.