The Occupational Health and Safety Administration has fined Birmingham, Ala., contractor Stephens Plumbing, Inc. with a fine $43,800 for a total of five serious excavation and trenching safety violations. OSHA cited the company for “permitting its employees to work, without appropriate cavern protection, in trenches up to 10-feet deep,” when the allowable height is 5-feet deep. OSHA says that anything deeper than 5-feet or more must have sidewall collapse safeguards like shoring, adequate soil sloping, or trench box.

The violations from OSHA stemmed from the following:

  1. Not properly training employees in cave-in hazards
  2. Failing to provide safe exit and entry from excavation
  3. Failing to place excavated soil away from the trench opening
  4. Permitting employees to work in an excavation in which water had accumulated

Construction Drive notes that while this fine seems aggressively high, the fines are only going to get higher. OSHA announced last year that it would raise fines for the first time since 1990 in order to become current with the Consumer Price Index, which some experts say is an 80% increase.

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