Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 00-198
Wednesday, October 27, 2000
Contact: Clyde Payne
MISSISSIPPI COMPANY FINED $126,350 AFTER DOUBLE FATALITY AT ROOSEVELT STATE PARK
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration simultaneously issued citations and signed a settlement agreement with Clarkco Services, Inc., of Heidelberg, Mississippi. The employer agreed to accept eleven unclassified violations of OSHA standards with assessed penalties totaling $126,350.
The settlement follows an OSHA inspection of an accident on May 2, that resulted in two employee fatalities at Roosevelt State Park, near Morton, Miss. Employees of the company were laying sewer pipe when a 15-foot section of the trench wall caved in on the two employees in the trench.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, the two fatalities were the direct result of employees working in a 7 to 14-foot deep trench without cave-in protection. The employer knowingly failed to have a competent person inspect the trench prior to allowing workers to enter the site and the company failed to instruct employees in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe trenching and excavation conditions. Additionally, employees were not wearing hard hats and had no fall protection equipment available at the site. The workers were also not provided with a required ladder for safe means of entering and exiting the trench which resulted in workers riding the bucket of the back hoe to get in and out. The company had not provided the required training of employees on the proper use of hazardous products and did not have a hazard communication program. Finally, no material safety data sheets were available for the hazardous materials and products used at the site.
All of the cited violations were corrected by the employer prior to the signing of the agreement with the exception of the training of all company employees and management officials, which will be completed within 90 days.
"We worked with Clarkco Services to reach an agreement that provides what are considered long-term safety enhancements for the employees of this company," said Payne. "Hopefully, the commitments made by this employer will provide information and training for employees and supervisory personnel that can be used to identify unsafe conditions and to prevent similar accidents in the future."
The company's comprehensive training for all employees will address safe practices in trenching, excavation and construction and will require daily job site safety inspections.
According to Payne, the company's site superintendent had received excavation and trenching training in July 1999 and had completed an OSHA 10-hour construction safety course in March 1999. However, he failed to comply with the company's written safety program or OSHA's trenching safety standards.
"With effective implementation of their own safety and health program and adherence to OSHA standards, this company could have eliminated the cave-in hazard and prevented this tragic loss of two lives," Payne said. "We believe this agreement will result in a significant improvement of safety and health awareness and compliance within this company. It also demonstrates OSHA's continuing effort to advance the cause of safety and health without the potential cost and burden of lengthy litigation to accomplish the same end results," said Payne.
The inspection of the Roosevelt State Park job site was conducted by OSHA's area office located at 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, Jackson, Mississippi. 39211; telephone: (601) 965-4606.
OSHA urges employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the Jackson area office. 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 that pose imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.