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Region 4 News Release: 11-490-ATL (174)
April 26, 2011
Contact: Michael D'Aquino      Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076      404-562-2078
E-mail: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov      wald.michael@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA cites utility contractor
following trench wall collapse in Valdosta, Ga.
Employee seriously injured when engulfed by soil in unprotected trench

VALDOSTA, Ga. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Hahira-based Southern Allied Contractors Inc. for five safety violations after an employee was seriously injured during a trench wall collapse in Valdosta. The utility contracting company was installing a new sanitation line at a work site located at Kings Way and Highway 41 when soil engulfed the employee.

While inspecting the site, OSHA found that two trenches - including the one in which the injured employee was working - lacked cave-in protection, as neither had a trench box or shield system. One willful violation was cited for failing to provide adequate protection to employees working in trenches. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

Four serious safety violations include failing to ensure that a ladder was available so employees could readily access and exit the bottom of a 7-foot-deep trench; exposing employees to fall hazards with the cover removed from a 7-foot-deep manhole; failing to ensure that a ladder was available to access and exit the bottom of the manhole; and not adequately training employees on recognizing and instituting preventive measures to protect against excavation hazards.

"This employer understood OSHA's rules on using protective systems when trenching and excavating but chose to ignore them," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "The Labor Department is committed to keeping workers safe by ensuring that employers take responsibility for safety and health."

More information on trenching and excavation hazards can be found on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/construction.html.

Proposed penalties total $60,720. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by OSHA's Savannah Area Office, 450 Mall Blvd., Suite J, Savannah, Ga. 31406; telephone 912-652-4393. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing an imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (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 ensure 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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