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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 08-1173-ATL (188)
Aug. 22, 2008
Contact: Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA cites American Air Specialists of Mississippi for willful and serious safety violations
Three employees died in March following a trench collapse

JACKSON, Miss. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) is proposing $65,450 in penalties against American Air Specialists of Mississippi for one willful and four serious safety violations of OSHA standards.

In March, three employees of the company died in Hattiesburg, Miss., when the west wall of an excavation for a new storm water drain line collapsed, trapping and burying the employees.

"Trenching and excavation work creates hazards to employees, but this tragedy could have been prevented by competent supervisors who would have recognized the hazard and installed a protective system, rather than ignoring the potential danger," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.

The company is receiving one willful violation with a proposed penalty of $49,000 for allowing employees to work in an excavation without using a protective shoring system. Four serious safety violations carrying $16,450 in proposed penalties are being assessed for the failure of the company's accident program to cover excavation and trenching hazards, not providing employees with training in excavation hazards, not providing employees with a ladder or stairway to exit the trench and for not assigning a competent person to inspect the trench.

The company has 15 business days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Jackson Area Office, 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210; telephone 601-965-4606.

OSHA's mission is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by preventing injuries, illnesses and fatalities. OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found nearly 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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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