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OSHA News Release
Region 1

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Region 1 News Release: 06-1225-BOS/BOS 2006-195
Monday, July 17, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074

OSHA Cites Hamden Contractor Following North Haven Trench Collapse

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- A Hamden, Conn., contractor faces $88,200 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) following a trench cave-in in North Haven, Conn., that partially buried an employee. J.T. Furrey Inc. was cited for a total of six alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards.

On Feb. 1, a section of a 6-foot-deep sewer-excavation trench at 399 Sackett Point Road collapsed. The employee working in the trench was pinned to his midsection and also struck by a falling section of pavement. OSHA's inspection found that the trench lacked cave-in protection and a safe means of exit, while piles of excavated spoils were placed less than 2 feet from the trench's edge. Additionally, weakened pavement surrounding the trench was not removed or supported to protect employees.

As a result of these conditions, J.T. Furrey Inc. was issued four willful citations, carrying $84,000 in proposed fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

"This accident is a graphic example of what can and does happen when required cave-in protection is not supplied," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director for southwestern Connecticut. "A trench's sidewalls can collapse swiftly and with great force, trapping and crushing workers before they have a chance to escape. It's sheer luck that no fatality occurred in this case, but safety cannot, and should never be, a matter of chance."

The company was also issued two serious citations and fined an additional $4,200 for not instructing employees to recognize and avoid trenching hazards and for not protecting and supporting underground gas lines against damage. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards require that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on excavation safety, including a trenching "Quick Card," is available for employers and workers on OSHA's Web site at

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Bridgeport, Conn., area office, telephone (203) 579-5579.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace 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


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