US Labor Department's OSHA cites Accadia Site Contracting Inc., proposes
$84,000 in fines for cave-in hazard at Lewiston Road work site in Niagara Falls
OSHA reminds western NY contractors of employer duty to protect workers in excavations
BUFFALO, N.Y. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Accadia Site Contracting Inc. for alleged willful and serious excavation safety violations found at a water main site at Lewiston Road and McKinley Avenue in Niagara Falls. The Depew-based contractor faces a total of $84,000 in proposed fines after an inspection by OSHA's Buffalo Area Office.
On March 7, OSHA found workers in a 7-foot deep vertical-walled excavation that lacked protection to prevent wall cave-ins, and a ladder every 25 feet to facilitate a swift and safe exit from the excavation. Moreover, 8 inches of water accumulated in the excavation's bottom, increasing the likelihood of a collapse.
"An unprotected excavation can turn into a grave in seconds, crushing and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have an opportunity to react or escape," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "These workers were fortunate¿not lucky, because workplace safety must never be dependent on luck¿that they were not injured or killed."
OSHA issued a willful citation, with a fine of $70,000, for the unprotected excavation. Two serious citations, with $14,000 in fines, were issued for the water and ladder hazards. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker 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.
OSHA is also calling upon employers across western New York to take effective action to ensure that excavations are guarded against collapse and their employees are protected against death and serious injury.
"The coming of warmer weather and the accompanying thaw of the soil bring with them an increase in excavation work. Unfortunately, it also brings an increase in cave-in hazards and unsafe work practices," said Dube. "Before any employee enters an excavation to perform work, the employer must ensure that the excavation is properly safeguarded against collapse, the employees are trained to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards and all required equipment is present and properly maintained."
Information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
"To prevent conditions like this from occurring in the first place, employers should implement an effective illness and injury prevention program in which they will work with their employees to identify, address and eliminate hazards before they harm workers," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.
Accadia Site Contracting Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director 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 Buffalo office at 716-551-3053.
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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Note to editors: For purposes of illustrating trenching hazards and safeguards to your readers and viewers, a poster is available at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/trench/3215_trench_poster_eng.pdf,* and the QuickCard is available at http://www.osha.gov/Publications/trench/trench_safety_tips_card.pdf.*
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.
* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.