Region 1 News Release: 08-99-BOS/BOS 2008-028
Mon., Jan. 28, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
CONCORD, N.H. -- An unprotected excavation and other hazards at a Hillsborough, N.H., jobsite have resulted in the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposing $76,500 in fines against a Pembroke, N.H., contractor. East Coast Utilities was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards at a sewer line installation site located at the intersection of West Main and School Streets.
OSHA opened its inspection on July 23, 2007, after agency inspectors spotted an employee entering an apparent unprotected excavation. The inspection revealed that employees working in an excavation that ranged from 8 feet, 5 inches to 11 feet, 6 inches in depth lacked adequate protection against a potential collapse of its walls. OSHA standards require that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
As a result, OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $70,000, for the lack of cave-in protection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
"An unprotected excavation can collapse in moments, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's acting area director in Concord. "The hazard is so severe that OSHA inspectors will stop and open an inspection on the spot whenever they observe an unprotected excavation, as happened in this case."
Three serious citations, carrying an additional $6,500 in fines, were issued for other hazards identified during the inspection. These included an excavator and a section of concrete curbing located within 2 feet of the excavation's edge; a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the edge of the excavation; and a backhoe that lacked a backup alarm or a spotter to warn employees.
"Left uncorrected, these conditions expose employees to the hazards of engulfment, crushing, falls and being struck by the backhoe," said Pagliuca, who explained that a serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Detailed information on trenching and excavation safety, including an interactive e-Tool, is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/constructiontrenching/index.html.
East Coast Utilities has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office; telephone 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 assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.