Trench Collapse Seriously Injures Worker, Employer Fined
31 July 2015No Comments
A Texas man was working in an 8-foot trench below ground, when suddenly, he was buried in it. His co-workers hurriedly dug the man out with their bare hands. Moments after they pulled the injured man to safety, the unprotected trench collapsed again. The workers’ injuries were serious and he was transported to the hospital.
EMPLOYER KNEW THE SITE WAS DANGEROUS
According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the worker’s Houston-based employer, Hassell Construction Co. Inc., knew the Richmond, Texas excavation site was dangerous, but failed to protect its workers. As a result, OSHA has cited Hassell Construction for 16 alleged 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.
Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels stated, “For more than 2,500 years, man has known how to prevent deadly trench collapses. It is absolutely unacceptable that employers continue to endanger the lives of workers in trenches.” He continued, “An employer is responsible for providing a workplace safe from hazards. Hassell Construction failed to do that in this case.”
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.
John Hermanson, OSHA’s regional administrator in Dallas said,“Trench cave-ins are preventable. There are long-established, basic precautions. They’re not new, and they’re not secret. Hassell Construction knew its trenches weren’t safe, but still put its workers in harm’s way.”
OSHA has placed Hassell Construction 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. Hassell Construction employs about 150 employees to help construct water and sewer lines in the Houston area. The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s Houston South area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
GETTING COMPENSATION AFTER WORKPLACE ACCIDENTS IN TEXAS
Were you injured in the workplace? If you were, there is a good chance that you are entitled to workers’ compensation. Workers’ compensation is a program that provides insurance benefits to individuals who are injured while at work and shields employers from liability after workplace accidents. There are some rules on how to apply for workers’ compensation, so it’s important that you understand how the system works in order to apply correctly.
The first thing you want to do is inform your employer. As part of the workers’ compensation procedure, you must report the injury to the employer within the first 30 days. If you don’t report it, you won’t be entitled to workers’ compensation later. If your injury is work-related but is worsening gradually, you need to report it to your employer within 30 days of discovering the injury. After reporting workplace accidents, you must apply for the claim. If the workers’ compensation claim is approved, you will be entitled to compensation for all your injury-related medical bills.