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National News Release: 04-2419-NAT
December 1, 2004
Contact: Al Belsky
$382,875 Penalty Proposed for Hazards at Trinity Park Project
PITTSBURGH -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Wagner Development Company, Inc., and Wagner Excavation Services, Inc., and proposed penalties of $382,875 for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards that led to the death of one employee and injury to a second worker at a storm sewer project in western Pennsylvania.
OSHA is citing the companies for a total of seven alleged willful violations for failing to provide cave-in protection to employees working at the Trinity Park Storm Water Project in North Franklin Township, Pa., on seven separate days last June. The agency identified an additional five alleged serious violations involving trench safety, personal protective equipment and overhead power lines.
"Strong enforcement is a key part of this Administration's efforts to reduce workplace injuries, illnesses and deaths," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "This tragic death could have been avoided. It strengthens our resolve to protect the health and safety of America's workers, as demonstrated by the significant penalty of $382,875 proposed in this case."
On June 29, 2004, OSHA learned of the death of one worker and the injury of another and began an investigation of a trench wall collapse at the Trinity Park Project site. The agency determined that on at least seven dates in June, the Wagner Companies had allowed unprotected employees to work in unshored, unsloped trenches in unstable soil, facing the risk of collapse. OSHA staff had specifically discussed trenching safety requirements with company owners and the foreman during an earlier inspection in February 2004. Further, the company had rented a trench box after an earlier trench collapse at the site that could have protected the workers, but it was lying unused nearby.
Proposed penalties for the seven alleged willful citations total $367,500 while proposed penalties for the five alleged serious violations total $15,375. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the OSHA law and regulations. A serious violation is issued when death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The Wagner Companies have 15 working days from receipt of the citations to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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 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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