OSHA Cites Hastings Plumbing Company Following Worksite Death


A Hastings plumbing company has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for five safety violations that led to the death of one of its workers.

Jose Briseno, employee of Witt Plumbing Inc., died from injuries after an unprotected trench collapsed one him at a jobsite in Hastings last January. He was locating a sewage drain pipe at ahome under construction when the trench collapsed. The 33-year-old was pronounced dead at the scene.

According to Bonita Winingham, OSHA's area director in Omaha, the use of protective shoring in the trench would have prevented the accident.

She said, "All too often,compromising safety procedures has tragic consequences, and hazards like thesecause numerous deaths and injuries every year."

Witt Plumbing Inc. was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection in the trench that was over 5 feet deep as well as not providing a way out of the trench. OSHA considers these violations willful violations because they were committed intentionally, with disregard for the law.

The three other violations OSHA cited the plumbing company for include: failing to train workers on trenching hazards, the lack of a hazard communication program and failing to have a competent person conduct trench and excavation inspections.

Because of the severity of hazards and the fact that there were willful violations, Witt Plumbing has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The program mandates that targeted follow-up inspections occur to ensure compliance with the law.

Additionally, OSHA has proposed $157,000 in fines. Witt Plumbing is now able to either pay the fine, request an informal meeting with the OSHA area director or officially contest the citations and penalties.

"No job should cost a worker's life because an employerfailed to properly protect and train them," lamented Winingham.

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