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OSHA News Release
Region 7

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Region 7 News Release: OSHA-07-1335-KAN
Thursday, Sept. 6, 2007
Contact: Diana Petterson Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA proposes $155,000 in fines against Midwest Farm Service Inc. following trenching fatality at Scottsbluff, Neb., worksite

SCOTTSBLUFF, Neb. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Midwest Farm Service Inc. $155,000 in proposed penalties for two alleged willful, three serious and two other-than-serious federal health and safety violations following a fatal trench cave-in at the company's worksite in Scottsbluff.

OSHA initiated its inspection following a March 7 accident that killed a 25-year-old construction employee when a portion of an unprotected trench collapsed. Midwest Farm Service was installing an agricultural irrigation piping system when the fatality occurred. The company is headquartered in Gering, Neb.

"Midwest Farm Service failed to take appropriate action to protect employees in the trench," said Charles E. Adkins, OSHA's regional administrator in Kansas City, Mo. "Excavation walls can collapse quickly and without warning. Employers must remain committed to keeping the workplace safe and healthful to prevent these types of accidents."

The alleged willful violations are for failing to ensure excavated soil from the trench (the spoil pile) and equipment remain at least two feet from the trench edge and not providing cave-in protection systems. Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The alleged serious violations address hazards associated with failure to develop and implement accident prevention programs related to trenching and excavations; failure to instruct employees in the hazards associated with trenches and excavations, as well as the means to reduce or eliminate such hazards; and failure to have trench inspections conducted by a competent person. Serious violations are those that could result in death or serious physical harm, about which the employer knew or should have known.

The other-than-serious citations address recordkeeping deficiencies.

Midwest Farm Service has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the citations and penalties 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 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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