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OSHA News Release
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Region 7


August 20, 2019

U.S. Department of Labor Cites Missouri Contractor
For Exposing Employees to Excavating and Trenching Hazards

ST. LOUIS, MO ‒ The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited J.H. Berra Construction Co. – based in St. Louis, Missouri – for exposing employees to excavation hazards at a residential construction site in Saint Charles, Missouri. The company faces penalties of $143,206.

OSHA opened an investigation after inspectors observed employees working in an inadequately protected trench. OSHA alleges that J.H. Berra Construction Co. failed to use a protective system in an excavation, exposing employees to struck-by and engulfment hazards, and failed to ensure a competent person conducted daily inspections for hazards prior to allowing employees to enter a trench.

OSHA cited the company for one willful and two serious citations for failing to protect employees from cave-in hazards following its February 14, 2019, investigation.

“Trench collapses and cave-ins pose a serious threat to workers’ lives, but the risks can be prevented by complying with safety requirements that exist to protect workers,” said OSHA St. Louis Area Director Bill McDonald.

OSHA recently updated the National Emphasis Program on preventing trenching and excavation collapses, and developed a series of compliance assistance resources to help keep workers safe from these hazards. The agency’s trenching and excavation webpage provides additional information on trenching hazards and solutions. The page includes a trenching operations QuickCard on protecting workers around trenches, and the "Protect Workers in Trenches" poster that provides a quick reminder of the three ways to prevent dangerous trench collapses.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and 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 https://www.osha.gov.

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:

Scott Allen, 312-353-4727, allen.scott@dol.gov
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976, burke.rhonda@dol.gov

Release Number: 19-1379-KAN


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