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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 07-1146-ATL (201)
August 3, 2007
Contact: Dan Fuqua Michael Wald
Phone: (404) 562-2078 (404) 562-2076

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes $60,000 in penalties against Fort Pierce, Fla., contractor for trenching and excavation hazards

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited W. Jackson & Sons Construction Co. of Fort Pierce, Fla., for two serious and two repeat safety violations following an inspection of the company's Sebastian, Fla., jobsite in March. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $60,000 against the underground utilities contractor.

"Excavation is one of the most hazardous construction operations due to the possibility of employee injury from soil collapse," said Darlene Fossum, OSHA's area director in Fort Lauderdale. "Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe."

Inspectors found that the company failed to adequately protect employees from soil collapse in a trench more than five feet deep and did not provide a means of egress in a trench more than four feet deep. As OSHA previously had warned the company regarding both of these hazards, the agency proposed $50,000 in penalties for these repeat violations.

Employees at the site were observed working without protective helmets and were allowed to continue working in a trench not protected from cave-in, although a competently trained employee was on site. These two serious safety violations resulted in $10,000 in proposed penalties.

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. Inspection of the site was conducted by staff from OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office, 8040 Peters Road, Building H-100; telephone (954) 424-0242.

OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by preventing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. The agency has a vigorous enforcement program, having conducted more than 38,000 inspections last year and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last seven years. In fiscal year 2006, OSHA found nearly 84,000 violations of its standards and regulations.

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 the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit


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