The company cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration says it is beginning the formal process to contest the claims. Gulf Coast Utility Contractor's attorney is reviewing documentation including photographs.
Gulf Coast Utility Contractors says they received notification Monday. The contractor says most of the report is untrue and there was no accident on the job site.
An OSHA inspector says Gulf Coast Utility exposed workers to a possible cave-in and other hazards while installing underground utilities in Panama City Beach. The citations stem from a December 2012 inspection and a follow-up inspection in February.
The company says all employees are given safety equipment on their first day. They say in this case workers were wrapping things up for the day and that's why the trench boxes had been removed.
Gulf Coast Utility Contractors says they enforce safety on the job. They say when employees do not comply, disciplinary action is taken.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Gulf Coast Utility Contractors LLC with two willful and two serious safety violations with proposed penalties totaling $106,400 for exposing workers to a cave-in and other hazards while they were installing underground utilities at a job site in Panama City Beach.
One OSHA inspection was initiated in December 2012 after its inspectors observed hazards while passing the work site. Another inspection began in February 2013 after additional trenching hazards were found at the same project in a different area. These inspections were part of the agency's national emphasis program on trenching. Two willful violations, with $98,000 in proposed penalties, involve failing to provide workers with protection against cave-in hazards while working in a trench greater than 5 feet in depth. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
Two serious violations, with penalties totaling $8,400, were cited because the employer failed to provide hard hats or a ladder to workers entering and exiting the excavation, thus exposing them to struck-by and fall hazards. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"This employer is aware of OSHA's standards regarding excavation and trenching, but put its employees' lives at risk, causing them to work in an unprotected trench," said Jeff Romeo, acting director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "Risking the safety of workers is an irresponsible business decision."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/GulfCoastUtility_796981_906937_06172013.pdf
Information provided by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration