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Region 1 News Release:    07-1833-BOS/BOS 2007-365
Thurs., Nov. 29, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074


U.S. Labor Department's OSHA proposes more than $116,000 in fines against Smithfield, R.I., contractor for cave-in hazards at three Ocean State worksites

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - A Smithfield, R.I., contractor's failure to provide cave-in protection for employees at three Rhode Island jobsites has resulted in a total of $116,200 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

John Rocchio Corp. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following OSHA inspections conducted June 1, June 13 and June 26 at worksites in East Greenwich and North Kingstown. All three inspections, which were conducted in response to reports of excavation hazards, found employees working in unprotected trenches and excavations ranging from six to nearly nine feet in depth.

"On all three occasions, the company was reminded of its responsibility to provide cave-in protection, yet we repeatedly found employees working in imminent danger situations," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director in Providence. "Equally disturbing is the fact that we have cited this employer six times in the past 10 years for this same type of hazard, and this behavior has not changed."

Griffin explained that all excavations five feet or deeper must be guarded since their walls can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape.

"While it is fortunate that no cave-in occurred, there is no margin for error in this type of situation," said Griffin. "The potential for death or disabling injuries was real and present at these three jobsites. Wherever and whenever this basic, common-sense and legally required safeguard is ignored, OSHA will continue to be present."

OSHA issued two willful citations and one serious citation, carrying a combined $109,200 in proposed fines, for the lack of cave-in protection. The agency also issued three serious citations, with $7,000 in fines, for allowing more than two feet of a trench's sidewall to be exposed below the bottom of a trench box, allowing an employee in an excavation to work without a hardhat and not properly shoring a telephone pole adjacent to an excavation. A willful violation is one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. 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.

John Rocchio Corp. 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. The inspections were conducted by OSHA's Providence Area Office (telephone 401-528-4669).

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.

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.

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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.


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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