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OSHA News Release
Region 8

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Region 8 News Release: 10-187-DEN
Feb. 25, 2010
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
Phone: 303-844-1302


US Department of Labor's OSHA cites 2 contractors
for violations of Occupational Safety and Health Act
Combined penalties total $71,000 for unsafe trenches at 2 Montana worksites

BILLINGS, Mont. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's (OSHA) Billings Area Office has cited two companies, Great Falls, Mont.-based Phillips Construction and Meridian, Idaho-based Cascade Pipeline Corp., with penalties of $39,000 and $32,000 respectively, for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act related to unsafe working conditions in trenches.

"These are different companies and different worksites but similar issues. Trench work can be extremely dangerous," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver, Colo. "Companies need to take the necessary steps to address hazards ahead of time and to educate employees on safe trench operations."

OSHA's investigation disclosed two alleged willful violations, two alleged serious violations and two alleged other-than-serious violations at Phillips Construction following an inspection at a worksite in Fairfield, Mont. The investigation of Cascade Pipeline Corp. found one alleged willful violation and two alleged serious violations related to an unsafe trench at a Miles City, Mont., worksite.

For both companies, the alleged willful violations stem from a lack of protective systems required for trench operations. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The two alleged serious violations against Phillips Construction relate to the misuse of ladders used to enter and exit the trench; and the alleged two other-than-serious violations relate to recordkeeping. For Cascade Pipeline Corp., the alleged serious violations relate to the misuse of ladders and excavated materials being placed too close to the edge of the trench. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an 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 Web site at

Phillips Construction and Cascade Pipeline Corp. each have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Billings, Mont., 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 assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit


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