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Region 3 News Release: Release Number: 05-1093-PHI (osha 070)
Date: Wed., June 22, 2005
Contact: Kate Dugan
Phone: (215) 861-5101


UNSAFE TRENCH MAY COST PITTSBURGH CONTRACTOR $62,000

Pittsburgh, Pa. -- Failure to provide a safe trenching operation for its workers could cost Pittsburgh, Pa. employer A. Merante Contracting, Inc., $62,000 in penalties proposed by the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards.

OSHA's action follows an inspection conducted in mid-May when the agency received notice that employees were working in a 13-foot deep excavation with no protection from cave-ins. The work is part of a project installing storm water pipe lines in Mt. Lebanon.

When the OSHA compliance officer arrived on the jobsite he ordered the employee out of the dangerous, unprotected trench. When he returned the next day, two more employees were working in the same unsafe trench. A cave-in had occurred at this site approximately two weeks before the inspection.

"Accidents, particularly cave-ins in trenching operations are among the most preventable hazards that exist," said OSHA Pittsburgh area director Robert Szymanski. "Yet, some contractors simply refuse to get the message that workers face serious dangers when not properly protected."

The proposed penalty for two alleged willful violations is $56,000. A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with intentional disregard for, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and its regulations.

Four serious violations, with a proposed total penalty of $6,000, address other hazards associated with the excavation operations.

The company has 15 working days to pay the penalty and comply with the standards, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or appeal the citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

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 process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.


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U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at <http://www.dol.gov>. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. 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.


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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