Ric-Man International, a firm that provides engineering design, heavy construction, land development, trenchless technologies, emergency repairs, hurricane cleanup and marine and bridge construction services, was cited for 19 safety violations following the death of an employee at a Weston, Florida, construction site. According to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, the firm failed to provide adequate cave-in and drowning hazard training and response strategies, resulting in the death of a worker while performing surface-supplied air diving during underwater construction activities.
"Ric-Man International exposed employees to serious safety hazards when feasible methods existed to protect employees from cave-in and drowning hazards," said Condell Eastmond, OSHA's area director, in a statement. "The company must take the necessary precautions to prevent employees from exposure to these hazards."
What were the company's consequences?
The firm received a single willful violation for the circumstances that led to the employee's death, as well as 13 serious violations. These included a failure to ensure workers performing diving operations are experienced and trained to perform underwater tasks safely, provide divers with the appropriate emergency equipment and to plan and assess risks associated with diving, such as underwater conditions, obstructions and visibility. It also failed to provide dive team members with necessary CPR training.
OSHA also listed several other-than-serious violations, and recommended fines totaling $161,000.
What precautions can be made in this situation?
Trench and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper have to be protected against sidewall collapses per OSHA regulations, unless the excavation is make of stable rock. Adequate protection can be performed by shoring trench walls, sloping the wall at a shallow angle or using a trench box. For trenches 20 feet or deeper, protective systems must be designed by professional engineers, or based on pre-approved designs. Ric-Man International was cited four times previously for a lack of cave-in protection and excavation hazards at other work sites.
The National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation provides guidelines for firms looking to ensure they meet safety management criteria and are able to adequately protect their employees from the various risks associated with trenching and excavation above or below water. In addition to protecting from sidewall collapse, the agency also requires firms to provide safe access and egress to all excavation sites within 25 feet of workers in all trenches 4 feet or deeper. Furthermore, any and all heavy equipment, excavated soil and other heavy loads need to be kept away from trench walls.
Keeping the workplace safe through practicing sound behavior-based safety measures should be any organization's paramount priority. This is why proper training programs and safety reporting are a key part of business operations within any industry. If you're interested in learning how IndustrySafe's safety inspection software and OSHA reporting solutions can help businesses meet this standard, contact us today or sign up for a free demo.