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Region 1 News Release: 10-1194-BOS/BOS 2010-369
Wed., Sept. 1, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074
Email: fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Cave-in hazard at Newport, RI, jobsite leads to nearly $70,000 in US Labor
Department OSHA fines for Middletown, RI, contractor

PROVIDENCE, R.I. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited J.A.M. Construction Co. Inc., of Middletown, R.I., for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards following an inspection at a Newport, R.I., jobsite. The contractor faces a total of $69,600 in proposed penalties.

OSHA inspectors passing by a worksite at 58 Brenton Road observed workers inside an apparently unprotected excavation and opened an on-the-spot inspection. OSHA found that the trench, which was up to 6 feet 4 inches deep, lacked worker safeguards against a collapse of its sidewalls. This cave-in hazard was exacerbated by the absence of a ladder or other safe means of exit, and by accumulating water.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued the company one willful citation with a proposed penalty of $56,000 for the unprotected excavation; one repeat citation, with a fine of $8,000 for a missing ladder; and one serious citation, with a $5,600 penalty for water in the trench.

"You cannot overstate the gravity of this hazard," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's area director for Rhode Island. "A cave-in can occur in seconds with soil and debris engulfing workers before they can react or escape. Employers know that an excavation must have effective cave-in protection in place every time a worker enters it. Failure to provide such protection could result in serious injury or death for a worker."

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the company in September 2007 for a similar hazard at a worksite on Aquidneck Avenue in Middletown.

Detailed information on trenching hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

J.A.M. Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Providence Area Office, telephone 401-528-4669. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (321-6742).

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 these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape 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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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