Workers at a Houston construction site exposed to excavation hazards SER Construction Partners fined $79,900 for three safety violations

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Employer name: SER Construction Partners Ltd.

Site: Houston, Texas

Date initiated: OSHA's Houston North Area Office began the investigation in January under the National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavations.

Investigation findings: SER Construction Partners Ltd. based out of Pasadena, Texas, specializes in heavy civil construction and employs about 370 employees. OSHA cited the employer for one repeat and two serious trenching violations.

  • The serious violations include failing to provide a safe egress from the trench and failing to prevent water accumulation.
  • The repeat violation involved failing to provide adequate cave-in protection such as sloping, benching or a protective shield system.

A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat violation exists when an employer has been cited previously for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. OSHA cited SER Construction for a similar violation in August 2010.

Proposed Penalties: $79,900

Quote: 'Exposing workers to trenching hazards without adequate protections can be fatal,' said Josh Flesher, OSHA's acting area director in the Houston North office. 'OSHA's standards must be followed to prevent workers from being injured.'

Information: The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Houston North Area Office at 936-760-3800 or the Houston South Area Office at 281-286-0583.

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