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OSHA News Release
Region 5

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Region 5 News Release: 06-781-CHI
June 6, 2006
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Phone: 312-353-6976

Sandusky, Ohio, Excavation Contractor Fined $251,250 for Unprotected Trench Work at Fremont Water Main Project

TOLEDO, Ohio -- Following inspections at excavation worksites in Fremont, Ohio, the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed $251,250 in fines against Speer Bros. Inc., Sandusky, Ohio, for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards.

OSHA opened an inspection in December 2005 following receipt of information that employees were working in unprotected trenches, some as deep as 13 feet, during construction of the City of Fremont Water Main Improvement Project.

The investigation resulted in citations for five willful violations of federal workplace safety regulations, including the failure to provide access and egress from deep trenches, failing to protect workers from cave-ins while inside those trenches, failing to protect against water accumulation inside the trenches and failing to remove employees from hazardous areas after having been advised of hazardous conditions that could result in cave-ins.

"Any one of these violations has the potential to kill the workers inside those trenches," said OSHA Area Director Jule Hovi, Toledo. "Trenching remains one of the most hazardous jobs in construction if proper safety procedures are not followed. When employers shirk their responsibility to keep the workplace safe, the results can be tragic for workers and their families."

Speer Bros. Inc. has an inspection history involving trenching violations dating back to 1992, including willful citations issued in December 2005. The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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