Region 1 News Release: 11-1800-BOS/BOS 2012-012
Jan. 26, 2012
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department's OSHA cites Ashland, NH, contractor
for cave-in hazards at Wolfeboro worksite
Hiltz Construction faces $51,260 in proposed fines
CONCORD, N.H. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Hiltz Construction Inc. for alleged willful, serious and other than serious violations of workplace safety standards at a Wolfeboro worksite. The Ashland contractor faces a total of $51,260 in proposed fines, chiefly for cave-in hazards.
Hiltz employees were installing water pipes at Harriman Hills Affordable Housing on Rte. 109 in July when an inspector from OSHA's Concord Area Office observed them working in an unprotected trench up to 7 feet in depth. OSHA standards require that all trenches or excavations 5 feet or deeper be guarded against a possible collapse of their sidewalls.
"An unguarded trench can collapse in seconds, crushing and burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they can react or escape," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director in New Hampshire. "The placement of excavated soil at the edge of the trench where it could have rolled in on the workers and the absence of a ladder or other safe and swift means for workers to exit the trench intensified the potential for serious injuries."
The workers were not trained to recognize these hazards and the trench had not been inspected by a competent person who had the knowledge to identify the hazards and the authority to correct them. As a result, OSHA issued Hiltz one willful citation, with a fine of $35,000 for the unguarded trench; four serious citations, with $15,600 in fines for the remaining trenching hazards; and one other than serious citation, with a $660 fine, for uncertified illness and injury summaries.
A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.
Hiltz Construction has contested its citations and proposed penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards and safe working procedures is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Concord Area Office at 603-225-1629.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.