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Region 5 News Release V-373
Sept. 18, 2003
Contact: Brad Mitchell
Workers Placed at Significant Risk
CHICAGO -- Failing to provide workers a means to safely exit a construction trench and failing to assure adequate safety protection inside the trench for the fourth time this year has resulted in a $235,200 fine for Luxemburg, Wis., based Dorner Stahl, Inc., the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced today.
"Trenching accidents are a major cause of job-related injuries and fatalities across the country that can be prevented if proper measures are taken to protect workers," said U.S Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The company has failed repeatedly to protect its workers, and the proposed penalty is an indication of the seriousness of this matter."
Dorner-Stahl has been inspected 56 times since 1981 with a history of repeat and willful violations of federal workplace safety statutes. This includes eight citations by OSHA in the past for egress from an excavation and 17 times for failing to provide adequate protection to prevent a cave-in. The company was fined a total of $305,600 by OSHA earlier in 2003 after three inspections revealed dangerous trenching operations. The company has appealed the previous fines before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The most recent OSHA investigation resulted in serious violations for improper use of a trench shield and willful violations for failing to provide a safe means of egress from the trench, employees working underneath loads, and employees working in an excavation where there was water accumulated in the trench. The firm was also cited for a repeat violation for failing to provide an adequate trench shield or other protective cave-in system.
Dorner-Stahl employs approximately 60 workers primarily involved in installing and repairing underground water and sewer pipe systems. The firm has been in business for over 20 years. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses and protecting America's workers. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
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