It’s been almost two years since Kevin Otto, owner of Atlantic Drain Service, was convicted of manslaughter in the tragic death of two of his employees. Prosecutors in the case said that OSHA had informed Otto at jobsites in 2007 and 2012 that he needed to install cave-in protections in trenches that were deeper than five feet. On Oct. 21, 2016, a 14-foot trench quickly filled with water after a hydrant collapsed. And Otto hadn’t heeded the earlier warnings. There were, once again, no cave-in protections on the job site and two of his employees were submerged in rushing water and drowned. Otto was fined more than a million dollars and sentenced to 2 years in prison.
The Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office accused the company of recklessly failing “to take the standard safety precautions that could have averted a tragedy.”
This level of scrutiny doesn’t hit many companies. We know OSHA’s ability to prosecute cases has been gutted by the previous administration, so while they can issue citations and fines, very few get prosecuted.
So, why should you worry?
- You don’t have to kill people to screw things up for your company.
- OSHA citations will still show up when you go to pull a permit. This will slow down the job and cost you money.
- Past violations will make any worker’s injury, hospitalization or death a much bigger problem for you.
- Today good labor is in (really) short supply and quality craftsmen do not want to work at unsafe companies. Plus, workers are encouraged by friends, family, co-workers and the press to report company safety violations.
- In general, people are quick to look for a reason to start a lawsuit, so your best defense is to keep your crew safe.
Unfortunately, accidents are going to happen, but don’t let them be your fault.
What can you do?
- You need a safety and health plan. If you don’t have one, call Parker Safety Group.
- Provide safety gear. Don’t know what you need? Check out the basics here.
- Provide training programs for your crews. Get started here.
Yes, it’s going to cost a little money, but it will save you in the end…both in fines and lives. It’s good business to keep workers safe. Especially if you want to sleep at night…and in your own bed.
Give us a call and we can help you plan a path to a safer job site.