Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 01-218
Thursday, Nov. 01, 2001
Contact: Luis Santiago
Phone: (954) 424-0242
OSHA CITES TWO SOUTH FLORIDA CONTRACTORS; PROPOSES PENALTIES TOTALING $96,850
SUNRISE, Fla. -- Failing to protect workers from a possible trench collapse has resulted in alleged willful and serious citations for Coffman Clark Construction, Inc., and Rangeline Tapping Services, Inc. Proposed penalties for the two South Florida companies total $96,850, the U. S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today.
On June 6, Coffman Clark Construction workers had dug an excavation at NW 42nd Place and University Drive so Rangeline Tapping Services workers could tap into an existing water line. An OSHA official observed several hazardous conditions and initiated an inspection.
"Both of these companies are familiar with the need to take preventive measures. They do this work regularly," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director. "Allowing workers to enter an excavation without protection against treacherous cave-in hazards shows a plain indifference to employee safety and OSHA standards."
OSHA issued one alleged willful citation to each of the contractors for allowing employees to work in an unprotected trench. Proposed fines totaled $42,000 for Ft. Lauderdale-based Coffman Clark Construction and $35,000 for Rangeline Tapping Services, headquartered in Royal Palm Beach.
Coffman Clark also received four alleged serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $10,850 for allowing excavated materials to accumulate at the top edge of the trench; failing to remove employees from hazardous conditions existing inside the excavation; not providing employees with a ladder or other means of safe entry into and exit from the trench, and failing to provide employees who worked near the roadway with high-visibility-warning vests.
OSHA issued an additional five alleged serious citations with proposed penalties totaling $9,000 against Rangeline Tapping Services for failing to: place excavated material at least two feet back from the top of the trench; provide proper trenching and excavation training to employees; provide employees with proper protective equipment, and assure a safe means for entering and exiting the trench.
Because of the high number of worker deaths and injuries in Florida, OSHA has worked for several years with the state's construction industry through the Construction Accident Reduction Emphasis (CARE) program. As an additional aid to employers, recently a compliance assistance specialist, separate and distinct from the enforcement division, was hired to assist companies to comply with OSHA requirements.
The companies have 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 OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area office located at 8040 Peters Rd., Bldg H-100; telephone: (954) 424-0242.