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OSHA News Release
Region 4

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Region 4 News Release: 13-2320-ATL (324)
Dec. 19, 2013
Contact: Lindsay Williams Michael D'Aquino
Phone: 404-562-2078 404-562-2076
Email: d'

US Department of Labor's OSHA cites Jones Utility and Contracting Co. for
exposing workers to trenching hazards; proposes more than $68,000 in fines

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Jones Utility and Contracting Co. Inc. for three repeat and one serious safety violation following an inspection at a job site on Five Mile Road in Birmingham. The agency initiated the July inspection as part of its national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. Proposed penalties total $68,530.

The repeat violations, with $64,680 in penalties, involve failing to provide workers a safe means to enter and exit a trench; provide cave-in protection for workers in a trench greater than 5 feet deep; and for allowing workers to operate in a trench containing a known cave-in hazard. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The company received citations for similar violations in 2010 and 2012.

"A trench without cave-in protection can collapse and bury workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Ramona Morris, OSHA's area director in Birmingham. "The employer was aware of OSHA's safety standards with regard to excavation and trenching, but chose to put lives at risk by allowing work to continue inside an unprotected trench."

The serious safety violation, with $3,850 in penalties, involves failing to train workers to recognize and avoid hazards within a trench. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at

Based in Birmingham, Jones Utility and Contracting Co. Inc. excavates, installs, maintains and repairs utility lines. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Birmingham Area Office at 205-731-1534.

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 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


U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 216-893-7828 or TTY 216-893-7755.