Friday, April 07, 2006

You Can't Fine Me. I Haven't Killed Anyone Yet

That's the attitude that R.A. Cullinan and Son Inc. is taking in challenging a $197,500 OSHA fine for exposing workers to potential trench cave-ins.
OSHA claimed the company violated safety standards because two trenches were without cave-in protection, and backfill and other materials were placed too close to the edge of the trench. Also, OSHA claimed the contractor did not protect workers from being injured in the swing radius of a backhoe working in the area.

No one was injured during the construction.

"Any one of these violations has the potential to cause serious harm, even death, to workers," John Newquist, OSHA's area director in Peoria, said in a prepared statement. "Trenching remains one of the most hazardous jobs in construction if proper safety procedures are not followed."
Apparently, an OSHA official had warned the company that shoring was needed for a trench they were digging, but when he returned, not only wasn't the trench shored, but they had dug another unshored trench.

Mike Cullinan, president of the company, announced that they would appeal the citation:
"While there is always an element of judgment in the interpretation and implementation of safety rules and regulations, we particularly take issue with any inference that the company itself was 'willful' or 'shirked' our responsibility in the proposed OSHA finding and penalty," Cullinan said.

"We value the safety of the public and our employees and hold ourselves to the highest professional standards to ensure their well-being," he said.

"We have a proactive safety program and will continue to pursue safety on the job site in the future with the same vigor as in the past," Cullinan added.
One might be able to say that with a straight face if his company hadn't received ten trenching violations over the past 20 years. And isn't it amazing how every single company that kills someone or that receives an OSHA citation has a great safety program?

And actually, trenching regulations aren't really so vague as to need a whole lot of interpretation. Basically trenches need to be protected from collapse if they're over 5 feet deep, piles of soil have to be kept 2 feet back, and you need to keep workers out of the way of the backhoe. You can check out OSHA's trenching standards here if you don't believe me.

And R.A. Cullinan has absolutely no excuse for being confused about trenching regulations:
R.A. Cullinan and Son has been in the highway construction business since it was organized in 1913. The company is located in Tremont, Illinois, and services the Peoria metropolitan area. R.A. Cullinan has become a respected industry leader in asphalt paving, aggregate production, concrete paving, subdivision construction, and underground work. A third generation family business, R.A. Cullinan has been involved in many significant projects over the years.
Does this sound like a company that can't figure out an OSHA standard?

So just quit complaining, pay the frigging fine and thank your lucky stars you didn't kill someone.