Region 3 News Release: III-98-10-22-185-PHL
Thurs., Oct. 22, 1998
Contact: Kate Dugan, (215) 596-1147
NORTH WALES COMPANY CITED FOR OSHA VIOLATIONS
FOLLOWING FATAL TRENCHING ACCIDENT
OSHA Official Urges Contractors to "Dig Trenches, Not Graves"
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today cited M.C.K. Mechanical, Inc., North Wales, Pa., for alleged violations of safety and health standards and proposed penalties totaling $62,000 following a fatal trenching accident.
The April 27 cave-in caused the death of an M.C.K. employee who was working with three other employees installing a new sewer line at the Linwood School in Linwood, Pa.
"Trenching accidents, many of which result in fatalities, are among the leading causes of injury," said Linda R. Anku, regional administrator of OSHA's regional headquarters in Philadelphia. "Over the last three years there have been 109 trench-related accidents nationally. Most of these tragedies could be avoided if contractors took proper precautions, or in more simple terms, began to dig trenches, not graves."
"In response to complaints of imminently dangerous trenches, the Philadelphia area office has conducted 39 inspections at various worksites over the last 3 years," said Phyllis Kyner, area director of OSHA's enforcement office in Philadelphia. "Three employees lost their lives and there were numerous cave-ins. In this case, employees had not been trained in the hazards associated with working in trenches and were not protected from cave-in by any protected system."
OSHA issued one willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $56,000 for exposing employees to cave-ins while working in a trench over eight feet deep and only 30 inches wide that did not have any appropriate protective system.
Four serious violations, with a penalty of $6,000, were also proposed. These violations dealt with the company's failure to provide a competent person to conduct daily inspections of the trench; to provide employees appropriate training for working in trenches; to prevent excavated soil from falling back into the trench; and to provide and require the use of hard hats to avoid injuries from falling objects.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH act and regulations.
A serious violation involves a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to either decide to comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by the Philadelphia OSHA office, U.S. Customs House, 2nd and Chestnut Sts., Room 242, Philadelphia, PA 19106, telephone (215) 597-4955
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