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Region 1 News Release: 08-1728-BOS/BOS 2008-353
Tues., Nov. 25, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

Danbury, Conn., contractor faces nearly $145,000 in U.S. Labor Department OSHA fines for work in collapsing excavation at Brookfield, Conn., site

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Sand Cut Properties LLC of Danbury, Conn., for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards after an employee was directed to work in a collapsing excavation at a Brookfield, Conn., worksite. The company, which is developing and constructing industrial buildings at 4 Sandcut Road, faces a total of $144,800 in proposed fines.

On May 28, a Sand Cut Properties employee was directed to enter a 6 to 9 foot-deep excavation to retrieve a piece of equipment. The collapsing excavation was weakened by a 15-foot tall pile of excavated materials placed at its edge and filling with water. The excavation did not have required cave-in protection.

"There was no excuse for sending this employee to work inside an unprotected, unstable and collapsing excavation," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport. "This instruction ignores basic safety requirements and common sense. This was an imminent danger situation, and the employee was fortunate not to be crushed or buried alive."

As a result, OSHA has issued Sand Cut Properties two willful citations, with $140,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of cave-in protection and for placing the 15-foot pile of excavated material next to the excavation's edge. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The company also has been issued two serious citations, with $4,800 in fines, for the accumulating water in the excavation and for having the employee ride in the bucket of an excavator, a situation which exposed him to fall and crushing hazards. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse and that other required safeguards be utilized to prevent excavation hazards. Detailed information is available on OSHA's Web site at

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to meet with OSHA or to contest them to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office; telephone 203-579-5581.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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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