This week, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced citations for a Davie, Florida, erosion prevention contractor and a Savannah, Georgia, crawl space remediation company in separate worker fatalities.
On October 13, the agency announced it cited Erosion Barrier Installations Corp. of Davie for 2 willful and 10 serious violations, with proposed penalties totaling $46,409.
On April 4, a 22-year-old diver working at the bottom of a Margate, Florida, canal was removing sand with an industrial vacuum to restore an embankment project when sediment above collapsed onto him, leaving the worker trapped until he drowned.
“Erosion Barrier Installations Corp. ignored safety standards, and a young worker has died. The company could have prevented this tragedy by ensuring dive team members had the experience and training needed before allowing them to do this dangerous work,” Condell Eastmond, OSHA’s Fort Lauderdale, Florida, area office director, said in an agency statement. “Commercial divers face a variety of hazards, and employers must not allow a dive to start until all workers’ safety is assured. The risks and the cost of failure are too great.”
According to the agency, the employer’s violations included:
- Failing to train divers in dive-related physics and physiology;
- Not training dive teams on equipment use, techniques, and emergency procedures required to safely perform underwater tasks;
- Not ensuring that all dive team members are trained in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR);
- Failing to require that an experienced dive team member supervise dredging operations in a canal with zero visibility;
- Failing to have an emergency aid list at the worksite—telephone or call numbers for an operational decompression chamber, accessible hospitals, available physicians, available means of transportation, and the nearest U.S. Coast Guard Rescue Coordination Center (RCC);
- Performing underwater dredging in a canal without a standby diver; and
- Not providing employees with harnesses capable of distributing the pull forces over divers’ bodies.
The agency cited the company in April 2011 following another fatal diving incident.
On October 12, OSHA announced it cited East Coast Crawl LLC, doing business as Crawlspace Medic of Savannah, for five serious violations after an employee suffered a fatal electrocution while digging a shallow drainage trench under a home. The agency proposed penalties totaling $31,284.
OSHA determined that on April 18, a 32-year-old lead repair technician came into contact with an electrical line as the worker installed a drain to remove accumulating water.
The agency cited the company for not making sure to de-energize electrical lines before allowing employees to work and dig within a danger zone, exposing workers to electrical shock hazards. East Coast Crawl also failed to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, did not provide personal protective equipment (PPE) for working in a confined space, and failed to identify all permit-required confined spaces, according to the agency.
Electrocution is one of the “fatal four” hazards, along with falls, “caught-in” and “caught-between” hazards, and being struck by an object, which are the leading causes of worker deaths in construction.
“Working in confined spaces presents hazards that can be fatal if they go unrecognized and are not appropriately mitigated,” Jerred Stevens, OSHA’s acting Savannah, Georgia, area director, said in an agency statement. “Employers have a legal responsibility to provide and ensure their employees have a safe workplace, but East Coast Crawl failed to follow federal safety requirements, and this worker’s family, friends, and co-workers are left to grieve.”