FOR RELEASE: Immediate
CONTACT: Bill Wright
Wednesday, August 27, 1997
Community involvement makes impact in Pennsylvania
TRENCHING VIOLATIONS BRING CONTRACTOR $230,400 IN PROPOSED PENALTIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) today
issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $230,400 to
an Alburtis, Pa., excavating contractor for subjecting workers to
potential life-threatening conditions during installation of a sewer
line. And, the local community can take credit for exposing the dangers.
OSHA cited the company, Atlantic Contracting, Inc., with a total
of 11 alleged violations, five of which are alleged as willful, after
complaints from local residents who had been observing the trenching
operation in a section of Lehigh Township, Pa.
"Every American worker has the right to a safe and healthy
workplace, and one of my top priorities is to make that right a
reality," said Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman. "We cannot
allow employers to continuously place their employees at risk of
death or serious injury by ignoring good safety and health practices.
OSHA has cited Atlantic Contracting for violations related to
excavation hazards on three separate occasions. By repeatedly
endangering its employees lives, Atlantic brought these penalties
Atlantic Contracting, Inc., an excavating contractor operating
in central Pennsylvania, primarily performs utility excavation
work. The company employs 80 people, 38 of whom were involved in
this particular sewer line installation project. OSHA's inspection
resulted from three reports of unsafe work practices received from
local citizens last spring.
OSHA cited the company with five alleged willful violations with
a proposed penalty of $201,000; three alleged serious violations
with a penalty totaling $12,600; and two repeat violations
totaling $16,800 in proposed penalties. Two contractors at
the same project were also issued serious citations: M.F. Ronca
& Sons, Bethlehem, Pa., $60,400; and Goodwin Tunneling
of NJ, Inc., Brooklawn, N.J., $6,600.
"The investigation revealed that Atlantic Contracting had,
indeed, allowed their employees to work in extremely hazardous
conditions," said OSHA's acting assistant secretary Gregory R.
Watchman. "We visited the work site on six different occasions
in order to acquire proper abatement. The company chose not only
to ignore the trenching and excavation standards, but our on-site
assistance as well. There simply is no excuse for this blatant
disregard for worker safety and flagrant indifference to the law,
particularly when assistance is offered."
The willful citations include three instance-by-instance alleged
violations involving three trenches that lacked cave-in protection.
In addition, two willful citations were issued for improperly
installed trench shields. The two repeat citations involve
instance-by-instance violations for two improperly shored trenches,
and the lack of support for underground installations. The serious
citations include an employee working under a loaded backhoe and
failure to use proper traffic control near the project.
The other-than-serious violation was issued for using shoring
without engineering data to determine whether the cave-in protection
would adequately support the load. No penalty was proposed.
"Though there has been an overall reduction in these types of
cases," Watchman said, "we continue to be concerned because trenching
remains one of the most hazardous operations in the construction
industry." As a result, the agency conducts seminars and information
sessions on trenching safety throughout the country. OSHA also
sponsors a free consultation program through state agencies or
universities that can help construction companies find the best
ways to meet OSHA trenching requirements.
"Excavations," a 24-page guide to the OSHA trenching standard,
is available for $1.25 (order #029-016-00167-1) from the
Government Printing Office by calling (202) 512-1800 or
fax (202) 512-2250. This booklet and additional materials are also
available on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov under "Technical
Links," subcategory "Trenching and Excavation."
Atlantic Contracting, Inc., has 15 working days to contest the
citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational
Safety and Health Review Commission.
# # #
(Editor's Note: See attached fact sheet for Summary of Citations
and Proposed Penalties)
The news release text is on the Internet World Wide Web at
http://www.osha.gov/ under media releases.
Information on this news release will be made available to sensory
impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: 202-219-8151.
Summary of Citations and Proposed Penalties
Atlantic Contracting, Inc.
Alleged Willful Violations
Three instances of employees in unprotected trenches ($42,000
per instance) (total penalty -- $126,000)
Soil not excavated at top of trench shield
(total penalty -- $33,000)
Improperly installed trench shield
(total penalty -- $42,000)
Total proposed penalties for alleged willful violations -- $201,000
(Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard
of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational
Safety and Health Act and regulations).
Alleged Serious Violations
Employee working under the load of a backhoe
(total penalty -- $4,200)
Failure to properly use traffic control near trenching operations
(total penalty -- $4,200)
Flagman not properly positioned (total penalty -- $4,200)
Total proposed penalties for alleged serious violations -- $12,600
(A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability
that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew
or should have known of the hazard).
Alleged Repeat Violations
Two instances of improperly shored trenches ($8,400 each instance), grouped with
Unsupported underground installations during excavation work
Total proposed penalties for alleged repeat violations -- $16,800
(A repeat violation is one in which the employer has been cited previously
for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order).
GRAND TOTAL OF PROPOSED PENALTIES$230,400