On January 16, 2014, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupation Safety
and Health Administration announced that it will be citing Municipal District
Services LLC, in Cypress Texas, for one will violation with a penalty
of $63,000. The violation is a result of the December 2013 trenching collapse
incident that occurred in Cypress. The accident involved two workers,
resulting in one fatality and one injury.
While attempting to repair a water main, the company had excavated a trench
that was 16 feet long, 5 feet wide and about 10 feet deep. Two Municipal
District Services workers went into the trench to clean it up and handle
a broken pipe issue. In just a matter of minutes, one of the excavation
walls caved in, leaving the workers trapped. The fatality and injury were
both preventable in the situation if proper protections had been used.
Though trenching can be one of the most hazardous construction jobs, there
are safety measures that can be taken to prevent these dangerous situations.
Trench boxes can help protect workers inside from possible collapse damage,
however, none were used at the Cypress site. The failure to ensure a safe
work environment was placed on their employer, who now faces more serious
Municipal District Services was cited with a willful violation for failing
to provide the proper safety equipment for their workers during this trench
job. According to the Occupation Safety and Health Act of 1970, every
employer is responsible for making available a safe and healthy work environment
for employees. With disregard to the safety and health of their workers,
Municipal District Services is responsible for the fatality and injury
that occurred. OSHA will be following up with the case to ensure that
these conditions are being met on a consistent basis by the Cypress company.
If you have more questions about workplace injuries or would like to talk
with an attorney, be sure to contact Arnold & Itkin today.