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Region 6 News Release:   OSHA-03-584-DAL
Fri., Oct. 24, 2003
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214)767-4776, Ext. 222 or 221

Trenching and Confined Space Hazards Bring $83,300 in Fines to Underground Technologies Inc., in Houston

HOUSTON -- A local employer's alleged failure to protect workers from trench cave-ins and exposure to carbon monoxide has resulted in citations for alleged violations of safety standards from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). Proposed penalties total $83,300.

Underground Technologies Inc. was cited with one alleged willful and seven alleged serious violations following an inspection by OSHA that began April 30 at a construction worksite on Hinds Street in Houston after an employee working in the confined space of a manhole lost consciousness. Underground Technologies employs about 114 workers company-wide, four of whom were working at the Houston worksite.

"This employer had all the appropriate equipment and the knowledge to protect its workers and instead chose to put these workers into hazardous work environments," said Ray Skinner, OSHA Houston South area director. "OSHA will not tolerate this disregard for worker protection."

The alleged willful violation was for failing to protect employees from excavation cave-ins through the use of an adequate protective system. 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 include failing to instruct employees on the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions; failing to instruct employees regarding the hazards of entering into a confined space; and failing to provide personal protective equipment to guard against carbon monoxide produced by a gasoline powered tool used within a confined space. Underground Technology also was cited for failing to protect employees from water accumulation in a trench, thereby exposing employees to the increased probability of a cave-in. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from the violation.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA Houston South area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Houston South office at (281) 286-0583 or OSHA's toll-free hotline number at 1-800-321-6742 to report workplace accidents, fatalities, or situations posing an imminent danger to workers.

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


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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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