US Department of Labor's OSHA cites contractor for willful and serious safety violations following trench fatality in Atlanta
ATLANTA - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Stamar Inc., doing business as Fulton Plumbing, Heating & Air, for safety violations following a trench collapse that killed a worker. In October 2009, two employees were working in an unprotected trench installing sewer and water lines for a new Atlanta Habitat for Humanity residence when a portion of the trench collapsed, killing one worker and injuring another.
Stamar Inc. has been cited with two alleged willful violations for failing to provide a safe means to exit a 7-to 9-foot trench and to provide an adequate protective system for trenching. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employees' safety and health.
The company also has been cited with five alleged serious safety violations, including allowing workers to use the bucket of the excavator to get in and out of the trench, failing to train workers to recognize and avoid hazards encountered when working in a trench, failing to provide protective helmets for employees working in a trench while exposing them to struck-by hazards, failing to keep excavated materials and equipment at least two feet from the edge of the excavation, and failing to conduct periodic inspections to assess the conditions of the trench during rainy weather.
"This tragic death occurred because the employer chose to take a shortcut. Trenching hazards and OSHA's requirements are well known," said Andre Richards, director of OSHA's Atlanta-West Office. "OSHA will not tolerate employers bypassing safety requirements and putting their workers at extreme risk."
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.
Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
OSHA has proposed a total of $89,500 in penalties against the company, which has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Atlanta-West Office, 2400 Herodian Way, Suite 250; Smyrna, Ga.; telephone 770-984-8700.
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 assure 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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