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Region 4 News Release: 12-67-ATL (020)
Jan. 26, 2012
Contact: Michael D'Aquino    Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076    404-562-2078
Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov     wald.michael@dol.gov

Memphis, Tenn., contractor cited for trenching hazards
at store construction site in Verona, Miss.

JACKSON, Miss. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $55,375 in penalties against Memphis, Tenn.-based contractor MTE Contracting LLC for four safety violations at a Verona, Miss., store construction site. An inspection was initiated when an OSHA compliance officer was passing by the site in November and observed cave-in hazards involving a trench that was being dug.

One willful violation with a $44,000 penalty involves failing to use either a trench shield system or a sloping and benching system to prevent the soil from collapsing into the trench. The trench was being dug in soil that previously had been disturbed and contained broken concrete, metal, brick and water; consequently, it was more likely to collapse and place the workers at risk of a cave-in. 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.

Three serious violations with fines of $11,375 include allowing an employee to enter and leave the trench by riding in the bucket of an excavator, piling soil close to the edge of the trench where it could fall into the trench and trap workers, and failing to provide a ladder or ramp for employees to exit the trench. A serious violation occurs 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.

"A trench can become a grave in a matter of seconds. Good safety practices can prevent trench collapses that cause needless injuries and even deaths," said Clyde Payne, the agency's area director in Jackson. "OSHA will not allow employers to endanger workers' lives by disregarding safety standards."

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.

MTE Contracting LLC 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.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Jackson Area Office at 601-965-4606.

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, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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