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OSHA News Release – Region 6
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 6 News Release: OSHA-04-1828-DAL
Thursday, Sept. 16, 2004
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, ext. 222 or 221
HOUSTON -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations and proposed penalties to Colt Utilities Inc. following an inspection that began March 19 that found safety violations at a trench and excavation site in Pearland, Texas.
"We must ensure that employers protect their workers from trenching and excavation hazards, so that injury and illness rates continue to decline," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $117,000 in this case demonstrates this Administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."
Colt Utilities was issued citations for two alleged willful and nine alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
The willful citations noted failure to provide proper protection for employees working in a trench and to remove employees when there is evidence of a possible cave-in. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer displays intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA law and regulations. Pipeline inspectors had warned the company site management officials several times to shore the excavation's walls.
The nine alleged serious violations - involving employee exposure to hazards associated with excavation - included allowing employees to work without adequate means of egress, a defective ladder, lack of personal protective equipment and fire protection, exposure to falling loads and failure to inspect the work site by a competent person. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
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.
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 FY 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.
The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc). Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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