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OSHA News Release – Region 4
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 4 News Release
Release Number: USDL 03-631-ATL (12)
Thurs., Jan. 15, 2004
Contact: Roberto Sanchez Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (205) 731-1534 (404) 562-2076
$96,000 in Penalties Proposed
BIRMINGHAM, Ala. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Richards & Sons Construction Company, Inc., for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a Bessemer, Ala., construction site. The agency is proposing $96,000 in penalties.
OSHA began an inspection of the Academy Drive work site on Sept. 9, as part of the agency's national emphasis program to prevent trenching accidents, a leading cause of worker deaths and injuries.
"Trenches can collapse quickly and without warning, so employers must take steps to protect workers at these worksites," said Roberto Sanchez, OSHA's Birmingham area director. "Fortunately, inspectors arrived at the site before a cave-in occurred, yet this company is facing tough penalties because of citations for repeated violations."
OSHA has found Richards & Sons in violation of the trenching standard at various job sites over the past few years. The company received three "repeat" citations with proposed penalties totaling $88,000 for: failing to have a competent person to conduct daily inspections of the excavation before allowing workers to enter the area; failing to protect workers from cave-ins by properly shoring or sloping trench walls or providing trench boxes; and for allowing excavated materials to accumulate at the edge of the excavation.
OSHA also issued serious citations with a proposed penalty of $8,000 for failing to provide: employees with a safe means of entering and exiting the trench; and failing to protect wire rope used for lifting, from being damaged.
The agency issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and the citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The construction site was inspected by OSHA's Birmingham area office located at 2047 Canyon Rd; phone: (205) 731-1534.
The office has a compliance assistance specialist, separate and distinct from the agency's enforcement program, to assist employers in complying with trenching and excavation regulations.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration 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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