For OSHA Construction and General Industry

Arizona Firm Cited for Lack of Excavation Safety

he Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Ellison-Mills Contracting with three serious violations involving excavation safety. The violations are the result of an August 2012 investigation that involved the death of a worker. Proposed penalties total $8, 400.

Established in 2001, Ellison-Mills Contracting is located in Casa Grande, Arizona. The excavating contractor specializes in grading, paving, underground, and concrete work. According to the company website, Ellison-Mills handles all types of construction work from low budget projects under $10,000 to million dollar construction jobs.

One of Ellison-Mills’ workers was killed while an 8 inch waterline was being installed at the Gila River Indian Community in Chandler, Arizona. While working in a trench, the employees was struck by a bucket shovel that was not properly secured via a quick coupler to excavating equipment. Due to this tragedy, OSHA cited the company with three serious violations centered around its regulations for excavation safety:

• Failing to visually inspect the quick coupler device prior to or after attachment and prior to use.

• Failure to instruct the operator to recognize and avoid operation of the excavator’s bucket shovel in close proximity to other workers.

• Failure to ensure the work area was free from recognized hazards including struck-by hazards during trenching.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has a safety and health information bulletin available on the agency’s website related to the safe operation of quick coupling devices for hydraulic excavator buckets. This information can be accessed at Zachary Barnett, director of OSHA’s Phoenix area office emphasized employers must make safety a priority at their work sites. This is in line with OSHA’s emphasis on excavation safety. He also mentioned the increase in tragic cases involving employees dying because couplers are not properly connected prior to starting excavator work. Barnett stressed employers must be proactive at assessing hazards and dealing with them appropriately.