Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 02-117
Mon., June 10, 2002
Contact: Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (404) 562-2076
Trenching Hazards in Atlanta Bring $91,000 in OSHA Penalties for Florida Company
ATLANTA -- Failing to protect four Hispanic workers from cave-in hazards may cost Hialeah, Fla.-based Cable Vision Associates of South Florida, Inc., $91,350 in penalties according to citations issued today by the Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
OSHA began an inspection Jan. 15 of a road-widening project at the intersection of Peachtree-Dunwoody and Hammond Drive after receiving an anonymous complaint about trenching hazards. OSHA regularly responds to such complaints because of the high number of accidents and fatalities associated with trenching operations.
An investigator observed four workers moving underground cables in a 30-foot long, 15-foot-deep, six-foot wide trench with no cave-in protection. The investigation revealed that the workers had dug the trench over a four-day period using shovels and five-gallon buckets. On the day of the inspection, the workers were dropped off and left unsupervised for more than four hours with no means of contacting the foreman.
The agency issued two willful citations with proposed penalties of $84,000 for failing to provide employees with a protective system, such as shoring or trench boxes, and for failing to provide ladders or other proper means of entering and exiting the excavation.
"Shoring material was on site but never used to provide the necessary protection," said Patricia Morris, OSHA's Atlanta-West acting area director. "The foreman also knew that ladders should have been in the trench, but failed to provide them. He decided, after meeting with the investigator, to shut down the job until proper abatement measures could be taken."
According to Morris, the trench did collapse during the period it was shut down.
The company was also cited for two alleged serious violations with proposed penalties of $7,350 for allowing excavated soil to accumulate within two feet of the trench opening and for not properly training employees about excavation hazards before allowing them to work in the trench.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSHA Act and regulations. 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.
The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by the Atlanta-West OSHA office located at 2400 Herodian Way, Suite 250, Smyrna, Ga.; phone: (770) 984-8700.