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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 06-1606-ATL (194)
Date: Monday, September 18, 2006
Contact: Kurt Petermeyer Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (912) 652-4393 (404) 562-2076

OSHA Cites Vidalia, Ga., Company for Trenching Hazards

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited OCS, an underground utility contractor, for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a job site located at Deer Creek and Fairway Drives in Swainsboro, Ga. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $61,600.

"Trenching is one of the most hazardous construction jobs," said John J. Deifer, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "To speed up the job, this employer ignored safe trench practices and exposed workers to cave-ins."

One OCS employee was trapped when part of the trench collapsed. The Emanuel County Fire Department rescued the worker and notified the OSHA office of the unsafe conditions.

OSHA issued one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000 for allowing employees to work in a vertical-wall trench approximately 18 feet deep without any cave-in protection, such as a trench box or sloping and shoring of the walls. The agency issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company also received one repeat citation with a proposed penalty of $5,600 for failing to provide employees with hard hats when they were exposed to falling rock and soil from the sides and top of the trench. OCS has previously been cited for similar conditions, and those citations have become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The company had a designated competent person on-site whose responsibilities included assuring that workers were protected from cave-ins.

OSHA has a statewide trench-safety alliance that focuses on providing construction employers and employees with best-practices information to reduce safety hazards during trenching and excavation operations.

The Vidalia, Ga., company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Savannah area office located at 450 Mall Blvd., Suite J, phone (912) 652-4393.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, 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 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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