Idaho Contractor Faces $173,000 in Penalties for Trench Violations

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Excavator being used to dig a trench
Workers were found in and around hazardous trenches in July, OSHA says.
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An Idaho contractor faces $173,000 in penalties for exposing workers to potential trench collapse, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety & Health Administration.

Mountain Power Construction, based in Post Falls, Idaho, provides power-line construction services in the West and Midwest. OSHA conducted a workplace safety investigation in July and said it found workers in and around hazardous trenches. The trenches did not have adequate protection from cave-in, an experienced person was not regularly monitoring the trenches, and workers had not been trained on excavation hazards.

In all, the company faces six violations – five series and one willful – with proposed penalties of $173,787. The willful violation, which is OSHA’s highest level of infraction, was for failure to provide adequate cave-in protection for employees.

“Mountain Power Construction placed its employees at risk of death or serious physical harm by disregarding basic safety requirements and preventive measures,” said OSHA Area Director Arthur Hazen in Billings, Montana. “Without these necessary protections in place, a trench can become an early grave for workers. Ignoring OSHA standards is never an option and we have an obligation to hold employers accountable when they don’t.”

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.

“Despite widespread prevention efforts by the federal and state agencies, labor unions, employers and other industry stakeholders, trench collapses continue to be one of the leading causes of injury and deaths in the construction industry,” OSHA says.

For more on OSHA’s trenching standards, click here.