OSHA fines Lumadue nearly $179,000 for trenching hazards

| June 21, 2013

Lumadue Excavating LLC, Pa. has been cited for 12 safety violations that exposed workers to trenching hazards.

U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) conducted two inspections at the West Decatur, PA excavating company. Trenches without protection were discovered at two separate sites –one seven feet deep and the other, over five feet deep.

Most cave-ins happen in trenches less than twelve feet deep; OSHA requires that any trench deeper than five feet be shored for support.

OSHA trenching poster

A protected trench. (Image via OSHA.gov).

Willful violations

Lumadue has been cited for two willful violations, meaning that the employer chose to violate a law while being aware of the risks and potential consequences. Lumadue failed to provide a protective system to prevent a trench cave-in. The proposed penalties total $92,400.

Repeat violations

The department has also proposed penalties of $73,920 for five repeat infractions; the company previously received a citation for a similar violation at another facility in federal enforcement states in the past five years.

Lumadue failed to ensure daily inspections of excavations by a qualified person, neglected to train employees on recognizing and avoiding hazardous conditions, and failed to provide employees a safe way to exit trenches. It was cited for similar violations in 2008 and 2009.

hazard spotting trench

A photo of a hazardous trench. To learn more about trenching hazards read here.

Serious violations

Lumadue has also been cited for three serious violations. Serious violations are cited when there is a significant probability of workers’ harm or death due to a hazard which the employer should have been aware of. The violations carry fines of $12,540.

Lumadue has also been cited for two less serious violations: absence of a written hazard communication program and material safety data sheets.

Lumadue now in OSHA’s SVE program

OSHA has placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP) and proposed a total fine of $178,860. The program requires follow-up inspections to make sure the company is meeting safety standards. OSHA’s SVEP focuses on employers who put workers at risk with their willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under this program, OSHA can inspect any of the employer’s facilities if it has sufficient reasons to believe there are similar violations.

Lumadue has 15 days from of the time it received the citations to decide if it will comply, request for an informal meeting with OSHA’s Wilkes-Barre area director, or appeal against citations and proposed fines before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Category: OSHA