NAPLES, FL — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) cited Douglas N. Higgins Inc., a South Florida utility company, after an employee suffered fatal injuries at a Naples Park worksite. The company faces $162,596 in proposed penalties, the maximum allowed.
The employee suffered the fatal injuries when a steel plate fell on him as he installed sewer lines. OSHA cited the company for permitting employees to work in a trench without adequate cave-in protection; failing to provide safe entry and exit from a trench, perform atmospheric testing, and train employees on signals used when moving trench boxes; and allowing employees to use defective equipment to hoist a compactor. The Agency cited the company for a similar violation in January 2017 after three employees succumbed to toxic gases while working in a manhole.
“Employers have a responsibility to ensure a working environment free from recognized hazards,” said Condell Eastmond, OSHA Fort Lauderdale Area Office Director. “This company’s continued failure to protect and train their employees on well-known hazards resulted in another preventable tragedy.”
Douglas N. Higgins Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance.