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Region 4 News Release: 09-311-ATL (082)
March 31, 2009
Contact: Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2078

U.S. Department of Labor's OSHA issues citations against contractor following trench collapse fatality in Horn Lake, Miss.

JACKSON, Miss. -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Phillips Construction in Hernando, Miss., with nine safety violations following an October 2008 trench collapse in Horn Lake, Miss., that resulted in the death of one worker and injury to another.

"Trenching and excavation work creates hazards to employees, but this tragedy could have been prevented by simply following good safety practices," said Clyde Payne, director of OSHA's Jackson Area Office.

OSHA has cited the company with one willful safety violation carrying a proposed penalty of $49,000 for failing to provide cave-in protection, such as shoring, sloping or a trench box, for its employees. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Six serious safety violations with $21,000 in proposed penalties have been proposed for failing to develop and maintain safety and health programs, provide training on trenching hazards, provide personal protective equipment, provide a means of egress from the trench, keep excavated soil at least 2 feet away from the trench edge and remove surface encumbrances from the trench side. A serious violation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Additionally, the company has been cited with two other-than-serious violations with $3,500 in proposed penalties for failing to notify OSHA of a fatality within eight hours of the incident.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Jackson or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Jackson Area Office, 3780 I-55 North, Suite 210, telephone 601-965-4606.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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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