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Region 4 News Release
Release Number: 04-851-ATL (100)
Tues., May 12, 2004
Contact: John Deifer     Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (912) 652-4393     (404) 562-2076


OSHA Cites Valdosta Contractor for Exposing Workers to Trenching Hazards at Homerville Job Site

SAVANNAH, Ga. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Standard Contractors Inc. for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a Homerville excavation site where employees were installing sewer lines in a nine-foot-deep trench. The agency is proposing $76,000 in penalties.

OSHA began an inspection of the Sunnyridge Drive work site on Feb. 4. The inspection is 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," said John Deifer, OSHA's Savannah area director. "Fortunately, an inspection began at the site before a cave-in occurred. The employer, however, faces tough penalties because of citations for willful violations."

OSHA issued two willful citations to the company, with proposed penalties of $75,000 for failing to provide workers with cave-in protection, such as a trench box or properly shored trench walls, and for failing to provide a safe means to enter and exit the trench. The investigation revealed that employees were required to climb the trench's vertical walls to enter or exit the excavation, although a ladder was available and management was aware of the fall hazard.

The agency issues a willful citation when an employer has shown an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

The company also received one serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $1,500, for failing to provide employees with hard hats when they worked near the bucket of a backhoe. 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 Valdosta-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The work site was inspected by OSHA's Savannah area office located at 450 Mall Boulevard, Suite J; phone: (912) 652-4393.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration conducted almost 40,000 inspections in fiscal year 2003, an increase of more than 2,000 over fiscal year 2002 inspection levels; more than half focused on high-hazard industries. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's workers by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach, and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information visit www.osha.gov.


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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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