Excavator cited for willful violations
By Aaron Corvin
Oregon OSHA has ned Estacada-based TC Excavating LLC $142,800 for ve violations, including two willful violations. The citation was based on an investigation of a trench that collapsed and killed an employee.
The accident occurred on May 5, 2016, during the installation of a sewer line for a house in southwest Portland. The investigation found two employees were working in an improperly shored trench that was about 10 feet deep. The excavation was incorrectly braced because two pieces of shoring were spaced too far apart to handle unstable soil. One of the employees was on his hands and knees working between the two pieces of shoring – spaced 15 feet apart – when the unprotected wall collapsed. The collapse buried and killed the employee.
During the investigation, the company's owner, who was on site, said he was negligent in allowing his employees to work in such a situation. He said he saw that the shoring was set up about 15 feet apart and that he knew it was not set up correctly. "I know the rules," he said, noting he has more than 16 years of excavation experience.
Oregon OSHA cited the company for two willful violations, each with the legal maximum penalty of $70,000. A willful violation occurs when an employer intentionally or knowingly allows a violation to occur.
One of the willful violations was based on the company's failure to provide employees with an adequate system to protect them from cave-ins. The other willful violation stemmed from the company's failure to provide employees with a ladder or other safe means to leave the trench.
The following serious violations, totaling $2,800 in nes, were also found during the investigation:
- The company failed to inspect the excavation and protective system before employees went to work.
- The company failed to keep a pile of unearthed material away from the edge of the excavation, exposing employees to possible falling debris.
- Oregon OSHA's investigation also showed the company failed to document safety meetings.
For more information about Oregon OSHA's rules regarding excavations visit the Excavations topic page. Learn about excavations and safe practices for small business owners and contractors in this Excavations publication.