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Region 8 News Release: 11-819-DEN
June 9, 2011
Contact: Rich Kulczewski
Phone: 303-844-1302
Email: kulczewski.richard@dol.gov

US Department of Labor's OSHA fines 2 Denver area companies
more than $42,000 for exposing workers to trench cave-in
Employee was trapped for several hours at Arapahoe County job site

DENVER – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations for one willful and two serious violations to High Plains Grading in Aurora, Colo., and for one serious violation to Century Communities LLC in Denver for exposing workers to trench cave-in hazards at an Arapahoe County job site.

The citations carry proposed fines of $37,400 for High Plains Grading and of $5,390 for Century Communities.

OSHA's investigation was initiated in March after an employee was pinned and injured in a 9-foot-deep trench when a large piece of the trench wall caved in on him. High Plains Grading was cited for failing to protect employees from cave-in hazards, the willful violation. The same company previously was cited in Colorado for unsafe excavations in 2006 and 2009. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

"The hazards associated with trenching are well known by the industry and specifically by this employer," said John Healy, OSHA area office director in Englewood. "Such disregard for the well-being of workers will not be tolerated."

High Plains Grading also was cited for serious violations – failing to support an exposed gas line in the trench and an inadequate ladder. As the controlling employer for the unsafe trench, Century Communities LLC was issued a serious citation, as well, for failure to ensure that a subcontractor used an appropriate shoring or sloping system in the trench. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.

Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Englewood or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Englewood Area Office; telephone 303-843-4500. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing 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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audiotape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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