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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 06-1800-ATL (260)
Date: Monday, October 30, 2006
Contact: Roberto Sanchez Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (205) 731-1534 (404) 562-2076

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA Cites Tuscaloosa, Ala., Contractor for Exposing Workers to Trenching Hazards

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited GILCO Contracting of Tuscaloosa, Ala., and proposed penalties totaling $112,000, for exposing employees to alleged trenching hazards at the City of Tuscaloosa Cottondale Sewer Project.

"A worker was seriously injured because this employer ignored safe trenching practices and failed to use safety equipment available at the site," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "Employers must protect employees working in this very hazardous industry."

On April 23, 2006, a GILCO employee, standing in a filled rock-box bucket of a track-hoe, was being lowered into an excavation when the soil under the equipment collapsed, spilling the stones and pinning the worker underneath the bucket in an 18-foot-deep trench. Rescuers removed the worker, but he sustained a fractured leg and a crushed arm which later had to be amputated.

The company received two willful citations, with proposed penalties totaling $100,000, for failing to provide a safe means for employees to enter and exit excavations and to protect workers from cave-ins by using a protective system, such as a trench box or properly sloping or shoring trench walls.

OSHA also issued one serious citations, with a proposed penalty of $4,000 for failing to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions in a language they understood. The company also received one "repeat" citation, with a proposed penalty of $8,000, for failing to keep excavated material at least two feet from the edge of the trench; operating equipment on unstable soil; and placing equipment over the edge of an excavation causing workers to be exposed to additional fall, struck-by and crushing hazards.

The company has 15 days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Staff from the Birmingham OSHA office located at 950 N. 22nd St. North, Room 1050; phone: (205) 731-1534, conducted the inspection.

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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