US Labor Department's OSHA cites Maine pipe supplier
for repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards
Everett J. Prescott Inc. faces more than $76,000 in proposed penalties
AUGUSTA, Maine – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited pipe supplier Everett J. Prescott Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards. The Gardiner supplier of pipe and related equipment faces a total of $76,230 in proposed fines following an inspection of a Scarborough worksite by OSHA's Augusta office begun in March.
The inspection was part of OSHA's national emphasis program on excavation safety. OSHA inspectors were traveling to another worksite when they came across an open and unguarded 7-foot, 3-inch deep excavation on Pine Point Road. The workers were installing a large valve in a pipe at the bottom of the excavation.
The repeat violations include failing to protect workers from cave-ins with an adequate protective system and that trained supervisory personnel failed to remove workers from the hazardous area until the necessary precautions could be taken. OSHA standards require that excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Similar violations were cited in 2009. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The proposed penalties for the repeat violations are $69,300.
"Repeat excavation violations are unacceptable because they signal a recurring failure on the part of the employer to ensure that workers are safe while on the job," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "The walls of an unguarded excavation can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape."
The serious violations included portable ladders that did not extend at least three feet above the upper landing surface, and failing to keep objects two feet from the edge of the excavation to prevent them from falling into the excavation. 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. The total proposed penalties for the serious violations are $6,930.
More information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation. Prescott has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 Augusta office at 207-626-9160 or its Bangor office at 207-941-8177.
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 or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.