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OSHA News Release
Region 4

Please note: As of January 20, 2021, information in some news releases may be out of date or not reflect current policies.

December 2, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Alabama Utilities Contractor
For Cave-in Hazards After Employee Injury

OPELIKA, AL – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Ballard Construction Co. Inc. – a sewer and water utilities contractor based in Kellyton, Alabama – for exposing employees to excavation hazards after a worker was injured and hospitalized following a trench collapse. The contractor faces $34,476 in penalties.

The employee was installing gravity sewer systems for residential home lots in Opelika, Alabama, when the collapse occurred. OSHA cited the company for allowing employees to work in an excavation that was improperly sloped; and failing to install an adequate protective system, train employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe work environments, and provide a means of safe egress while working in a trench. 

“Cave-in protection is required for trenches or excavations that are 5 feet deep or greater,” said OSHA Mobile Area Director Jose Gonzalez. “Employers are legally obligated to slope, shore or shield trench walls to prevent injuries such as this from occurring.”

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing injuries related to trenching and excavation collapses. OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, including a trenching operations QuickCard and a “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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 help ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

The mission of the Department of Labor is to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers, and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.

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Media Contacts:

Eric Lucero, 678-237-0630,
Michael D’Aquino, 678-237-0630,

Release Number:  19-2030-ATL (424)

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