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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 06-217-ATL (36)
Date: Tuesday, February 28, 2006
Contact: G.T. Breezley Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (770) 493-6644 (404) 562-2076

OSHA Fines Savannah Construction $125,000 for Trenching Hazards at Cumming, Ga., Construction Sites

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety Administration (OSHA) has cited Savannah Construction and proposed penalties totaling $125,000 for trenching hazards at job sites in Cumming, Ga. County officials notified OSHA after the company failed to heed warnings about unsafe conditions at the residential building sites.

"OSHA is a member of a statewide alliance of county, business, labor and university organizations dedicated to preventing trenching accidents," said G. T. Breezley, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director. "This effort involves training classes, publishing information about trenching safety, and referrals."

OSHA conducted three referral inspections at sites on Hopewell Road where Savannah Construction employees were digging trenches and installing underground utilities.

On Aug. 29, OSHA inspectors determined that a designated competent person failed to inspect trenches and take corrective action when cracks appeared in trench walls, and that the company failed to provide adequate cave-in protection and keep excavated material at least two feet from trench edges. The agency issued three repeat citations with proposed penalties of $12,000. A serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $1,000, was issued for failing to provide head protection for employees working near an excavating machine. At that time, OSHA discussed safe trenching practices with company officials and provided written information.

On Sept. 9, OSHA inspectors returned to the area and again observed trenches more than five feet deep without adequate cave-in protection, such as trench boxes, or sloping or shoring the sides of the trenches. The company received one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $44,000. A serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $4,000, was also issued for failing to provide employees with a safe means of exiting trenches.

After receiving another call from county officials, OSHA inspectors returned Sept. 13 and observed employees working in three excavations without adequate cave-in protection. The agency issued another willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000. The company also received a repeat citation, with a proposed penalty of $8,000, for allowing five feet of excavated material to accumulate at the edges of trenches six to nine feet deep.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest them and the proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Atlanta-East area office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Bldg. 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga., phone: (770) 493-6644.

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