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OSHA News Release
Region 9

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Region 9 News Release: 06-553-SAN (SF-43)
Date: April 17, 2006
Contact: Roger Gayman
Phone: (415) 975-4742

OSHA Fines Guam Construction Firm $30,000 For Safety Violations Following Trench Collapse

SAN FRANCISCO -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Siwoo Corporation for alleged safety violations following the investigation of an Oct. 25 trench collapse that trapped the owner of the company at a relief sewer modification project at the Chaot-Agana construction site near the Chaot River Highway Four Bridge in Sinajana.

"Siwoo's previous OSHA history and the facts surrounding the current inspection indicate the employer willfully violated a regulation," said Christopher Lee, acting regional administrator for federal OSHA in San Francisco. "These violations could have easily resulted in the death of one or more employees."

OSHA cited Siwoo Corporation for a willful violation, with a penalty of $28,000, for failing to provide cave-in protection for employees working in a 6 to 8-foot deep trench. While owner Back Seol Seong was working in the unprotected trench, a wall collapsed burying him. He was trapped for several hours and sustained minor injuries. Three other employees working in the trench were not injured. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

OSHA observed the same hazard along this project route one month prior to the accident and issued citations to Siwoo at that time. Company officials failed to comply despite being warned about the requirements of cave-in protection on numerous occasions by the general contractor, OSHA and Government of Guam officials.

OSHA also assessed a serious citation, with a penalty of $2,000, for failure to provide adequate protection for employees from loose rock or soil that could fall or roll from a trench face. Employees were inside the trench installing sewer pipes while exposed to loose rock, soil and debris falling from an adjacent wall. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Siwoo Corporation, based in Barrigada, has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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