Region 4 News Release: 06-280-ATL (030)
Date: Wednesday, February 22, 2006
Contact: Roberto Sanchez Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (205) 731-1534 (404) 562-2076
OSHA Cites Alabama Company and Proposes $210,000 in Penalties Following Trenching Fatality
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations against utility contractor O'CET, and proposed penalties totaling $210,000, following the investigation of a fatal accident last August at a Clay, Ala., construction site.
"When an employer chooses speed and not safety, tragedy follows," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "Safe work practices would have prevented this accident."
OSHA began an inspection at the Steeple Chase subdivision after being notified that an O'CET employee was trapped in a collapsed trench. Rescue attempts failed. Agency investigators determined that employees had been working in an 18-foot-deep trench with excavated soil piled 10 feet high at the edge of the trench walls.
The company received four willful citations, with proposed penalties of $196,000, for allowing workers to ride on an excavator bucket and then jump into trenches; failing to provide employees with adequate means to enter and exit trenches; placing excavated materials within two feet of trench walls; inadequately shoring and sloping trench walls, and failing to conduct daily inspections and remove employees from the site when hazardous conditions were observed.
OSHA also issued four serious citations, with proposed penalties of $14,000, for allowing employees to work under suspended loads of sewer pipes and for failing to train employees and provide them with hard hats, drinking water and bathroom facilities.
A willful citation is issued when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The company has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Staff from the Birmingham OSHA office located at 950 22nd St. N., Suite 1050, conducted the inspection; phone: (205) 731-1534.
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 workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships, and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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