US Labor Department's OSHA fines two companies $130,500 for trenching
hazards at Kearny, NJ, site
KEARNY, N.J. – VM Construction Inc., based in Miami, and Concrete Systems Inc., based in Sterling, were cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for willful and repeat trenching hazards found at a Kearny work site. OSHA's November 2012 investigation was prompted by an imminent danger complaint that alleged workers operated in an unprotected excavation 8 feet deep.
One willful violation, carrying a $28,000 penalty, was cited against VM Construction Inc. for those workers operating in an unprotected excavation. 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. The construction company was also cited for one serious violation, with a $2,400 penalty, for failing to ensure a competent person inspected the excavation prior to allowing workers to enter. 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.
Concrete Systems Inc., a concrete and masonry contractor, faces $100,100 in penalties for two repeat violations involving workers operating in an unprotected excavation and entering an excavation that was not inspected beforehand by a competent person. A repeat violation is issued 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. Similar violations were cited in 2008.
"Improperly protected trenches can collapse suddenly and with great force," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office. "OSHA implemented a trenching and excavation special emphasis program in the 1980s, so the industry is well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations."
Detailed information on safeguards for excavation and trenching is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/ConcreteSystems_772381_0605_13.pdf* and http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/VMConstruction_770662_0605_13.pdf*.
Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Parsippany, or contest the citations and proposed penalties 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 Parsippany Area Office at 973-263-1003.
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.
* Accessibility Assistance: Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.