OSHA Penalizes Construction Company $423,900 for Failure to Protect Workers

 
Thursday, July 23, 2015
 

Hassell Construction Co. Inc. knew its Richmond, Texas excavation site was dangerous, but failed to protect its workers.  One of its workers was working in an 8-foot trench below ground, then he was buried in it. His co-workers came to his rescue, digging him out with their bare hands. Moments after they pulled the injured man to safety, the unprotected trench collapsed again. His injuries were serious and led to his hospitalization.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hassell Construction for 16 safety violations, including six egregious willful violations for failing to protect workers inside an excavation from a cave-in. The company faces penalties totaling $423,900. 

In addition to the willful violations, Hassell was cited for nine serious violations, including failing to remove debris from the edge of the excavation. The company also did not provide a safe means to get in and out of the excavation for workers or conduct atmospheric testing inside excavations after a sewer leak. 

OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program concentrates resources on inspecting employers who have demonstrated indifference towards creating a safe and healthy workplace by committing willful or repeated violations, and/or failing to abate known hazards. It also mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. 

The citations Hassell Construction received are available here. 

Hassell Construction employs about 150 employees to help construct water and sewer lines in the Houston area. Its workers compensation insurance carrier is Liberty Mutual.  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.

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