Region 1 News Release: BOS 2001-064
Wednesday, May 23, 2001
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
Granite State employers reminded of "all too common" hazard
OSHA CITES THREE CONTRACTORS FOR INADEQUATE CAVE-IN PROTECTION FOR WORKERS AT JOBSITES IN MANCHESTER, PORTSMOUTH AND EXETER, NEW HAMPSHIRE; NEARLY $66,000 IN FINES PROPOSED
BOSTON -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited three contractors from Maine and New Hampshire for alleged willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act for failing to provide adequate cave-in protection for employees working in excavations at jobsites in Portsmouth, Manchester and Exeter, NH. Combined penalties totaling $65,900 have been proposed against the three employers.
S.E. MacMillan Co., Inc., of Bangor, Maine, for employees working in an inadequately guarded trench at a water line installation site on Constitution Avenue in Portsmouth, NH.
R.D. Edmunds & Sons, Inc., of Franklin, NH, for employees working in an inadequately guarded trench at a water line installation site on Electric Street in Manchester, NH.
Perm A Drive Paving Co., of Conway, NH, for employees working in an inadequately guarded trench at a sewer repair site on Portsmouth Avenue in Exeter, NH.
(An item-by-item breakdown of citations and fines for each employer is attached).
"These citations reflect an all too common construction safety hazard," said David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, who noted that 36 American workers died in excavation collapses in 1998. "Particularly disturbing is that, in all three cases, these employers knew cave-in protection was required for their employees, yet did not provide adequate safeguards for them."
May reminded Granite State employers that excavation safety has long been a special emphasis for OSHA, with the agency often conducting spot inspections:
"Employers should not assume that OSHA won't inspect their jobsite, no matter where it's located," he said. "If OSHA inspectors encounter a excavation during their normal business travels, they will stop and examine it. If hazards, such as a lack of collapse protection, are observed, an inspection will be opened on the spot and violations will result in appropriate citations and fines. The simple fact is that no job, no deadline, is an excuse for failing to implement this standard, commonsense safeguard for workers."
OSHA standards require that excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against a collapse of their sidewalls. Collapse protection may be supplied by shoring the sidewalls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle or by proper use of a protective trench box. Detailed information on identifying, evaluating and addressing excavation safety hazards is available through OSHA's website. Go to www.osha.gov, click on "Technical Links", then click on "Trenching and excavations".
Other sources of information may include the State of New Hampshire's free safety consultation program for smaller employers, professional associations and employers' insurance carriers.
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding excavation and other workplace safety and health issues contact the OSHA area office in Concord at 603-225-1629 and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
Each company has 15 working days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
S.E. MacMillan Co., Inc., of Bangor, Maine, faces $36,900 in fines for:
One alleged willful violation, with a $33,000 proposed penalty, for: employees working in a 7.5 to 8.5 foot deep excavation that was not adequately protected from collapse by shoring or sloping of the soil.
Two alleged serious violations, with $3,900 in fines proposed, for: an excavator was operated in such a way that it contacted an overhead power line; and part of an excavator overhung the edge of an excavation.
Two alleged other than serious violations, for: trench box specifications were not available on site; and a damaged ladder was not removed from service.
R.D. Edmunds & Son, Inc., of Franklin, NH, faces $22,000 in fines, for:
One alleged willful violation (proposed penalty: $22,000)for: employees working in a 17 foot deep excavation which was not adequately sloped or shored.
One alleged other than Serious violation for: a set of plans for the shoring system approved by a professional engineer were not available on site.
Perm A Drive Paving Co., of Conway, NH, faces $7,000 in fines, for:
One alleged willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $5,500, for: employees working in a 6 to 7 foot deep trench which was not adequately protected from collapse by sloping or shoring.
Two alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties of $1,500, for: a safe means of exit from the excavation was not provided; and a damaged synthetic web sling was used to lift a granite block.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as 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.
An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.