The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Florida Progress LLC – operating as Duke Energy Florida LLC – for exposing employees to excavation hazards at a Zephyrhills, Florida, worksite. The Charlotte, North Carolina-based electric power distributor faces $53,976 in penalties.
OSHA was notified of an employee hospitalized after a trench wall collapsed on him. The agency initiated an inspection as part of the National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA cited the company's failure to train employees on how to recognize trench safety hazards, have a competent person conduct trench inspections, provide a safe means of egress from the excavation, place the spoil pile a safe distance from the trench walls and use shoring, sloping or other protective measures to protect workers.
"Employers must take necessary steps to protect employees working in excavations. Failing to correct hazards places workers at risk of serious and fatal injuries," said OSHA Acting Tampa Area Office Director Condell Eastmond. "OSHA encourages employers to contact the agency for compliance assistance with trenching and excavation requirements."
OSHA's national emphasis program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses and the agency's trenching and excavation webpage provide additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a trenching operations QuickCard and a "Protect Workers in Trenches" poster.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.
The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.