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Region 1 News Release: 07-1744-BOS/BOS 2007-348
Wed., Nov. 14, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
R.S. Audley Inc. cited for 6th excavation safety violation in past 5 years
CONCORD, N.H. - A Bow, N.H., contractor's alleged failure to provide adequate cave-in protection for employees working in a nine-foot deep drainage pipe excavation on Route 11 in Newport, N.H., has resulted in $61,600 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
R.S. Audley Inc. was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards as the result of an inspection begun after an OSHA inspector observed an apparently unprotected excavation while driving by the worksite. These violations mark the sixth time in five years that OSHA has cited R.S. Audley Inc. for lack of cave-in protection at New Hampshire worksites. The other locations were in North Conway, Pembroke, Swanzey, Bedford and Seabrook.
OSHA found in this case that the excavation's walls were not properly sloped or shored against collapse, as required for all excavations five feet or deeper. In addition, employees had not been adequately trained to recognize and avoid excavation hazards, an exit ladder was placed at an unsafe angle, and the excavation had not been inspected by a person competent to identify and correct hazards.
OSHA issued a repeat citation and proposed $56,000 in fines for the lack of cave-in protection, and three serious citations, with $5,600 in proposed fines, for the other conditions. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
"Repeatedly failing to safeguard excavations against cave-in hazards is a gamble that can cost employees their lives," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's acting area director for New Hampshire. "No employee should enter an excavation until it is properly protected and all must be trained so they can identify and protect themselves against this hazard."
Pagliuca noted that OSHA inspectors who observe excavation hazards can and will stop work and open inspections on the spot, as occurred in this case. To help employers understand how to comply with regulations and protect employees, OSHA has posted a trenching "Quick Card," an interactive eTool and other detailed information on excavation safety on its Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/constructiontrenching/index.html.
R.S. Audley Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Concord Area Office (telephone 603-225-1629).
OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found more than 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women 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
U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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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