Region 9 News Release: USDL-103
July 29, 1999
Contact: Leonard Limtiaco
PHONE: 775-885-6967 (U.S.)
SAIPAN CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FINED $93,000 FOR HAZARDOUS TRENCH PROJECT
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations for willful and serious violations against a Saipan construction company which allowed employees to work in a trench as much as 12 feet deep without adequate protections against cave-ins.
Following up on a report received in January, OSHA conducted an inspection and issued citations for two willful violations, which include penalties of $80,000, and three serious violations, with penalties of $12,600, to Sablan Construction Company, Ltd., for allowing the hazardous conditions at the Marpi Road Expansion Project.
The willful violations include allowing employees to work in conditions where cave-ins could occur without providing adequate cave-in protection; and for falsifying the records of occupational injuries and illnesses. The serious violations include failure to provide a safe means of escape from an excavation; allowing employees to work under a suspended load; and for failure to keep excavated soil and other material a safe distance from the edge of a trench.
"Sablan Construction had the information and the equipment to avoid the possibility of cave-ins and yet allowed employees to work in a 12-foot-deep trench without protection," explained Leonard Limtiaco, OSHA regional director of enforcement and investigations. "Any employer who knowingly allows such unsafe practices is subject to a willful citation."
The OSHA inspection also revealed that the company falsified required records of injuries. Although the company was the subject of a number of workers compensation insurance claims over the last few years, company records did not show any injuries. Injury records are reviewed during OSHA inspections and are one of the factors considered in proposing penalties for violations.
"There are many employers in Saipan with legitimate clean records -- no injuries," continued Limtiaco. "Hopefully this case will deter companies from attempting to falsify their records in order to be counted among those businesses who have worked hard to eliminate workplace injuries."
The employer has 15 working days from the date of the notice to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission - a government judicial agency separate from OSHA.
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