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Region 4 News Release
Release Number: 04-1852-ATL (271)
Date: Thursday, November 18, 2004
Contact: Johnny Burroughs     Jo Anne Burgoyne
Phone: (251) 441-6131     (404) 562-2076

OSHA Cites Contractor Following Trenching Fatality at Opelika Job Site
Unsafe Working Conditions Bring Proposed Penalties Totaling $58,800

MOBILE, Ala. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Cleveland Brother's Construction, LLC, and proposed $58,800 in total penalties, for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards that resulted in the death of an employee.

On May 18, OSHA began an investigation at a Waverly Park subdivision construction site where a worker was trapped after the wall of the trench caved in. The worker was rescued, but died later the same day from his injuries.

"This tragedy could have been prevented had the company followed its own safety manual and OSHA regulations," said Ken Atha, OSHA's Mobile area director. "OSHA's investigative findings clearly show that trenching fatalities and injuries occur when speed replaces safety as a priority."

Following this investigation, OSHA issued one alleged willful citation to Cleveland Brother's Construction, with a proposed penalty of $49,000, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins by sloping or shoring trench walls or by using protective systems, such as a trench box.

The company also received two alleged serious citations, with penalties totaling $9,800, for failing to: provide safety training for employees and allowing excavated material to accumulate too near the edge of the trench.

The Auburn-based company has 15 working days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Staff from the Mobile area office - located at 1141 Montlimar Drive, Suite 1006; phone: (251) 441-6131 - conducted the investigation.

The agency also has a technical assistance program, separate and distinct from its enforcement program, to help employers recognize and reduce hazards associated with trenching and excavation operations.

Employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. 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


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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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