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Region 4 News Release: 12-1241-ATL (269)
July 23, 2012
Contact: Michael D'Aquino      Michael Wald
Phone: 404-562-2076      404-562-2078
Email: d'aquino.michael@dol.gov      wald.michael@dol.gov

Ditchdiggers of Fort Pierce, Fla., cited by US Labor Department's OSHA for
exposing workers to trenching hazards; more than $51,000 proposed in fines

WHITE CITY, Fla. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Ditchdiggers of Fort Pierce for two trenching violations while workers were installing a new section of a sewer drain at 4820 S. U.S. Route 1 and E. Midway Road in White City. An inspection was initiated as part of OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Proposed penalties total $51,590.

One willful violation is failing to have provided workers with protection against cave-in hazards while they were working in a trench more than 5 feet deep. 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.

One serious violation is failing to have provided a competent person on-site to monitor deteriorating trench conditions. 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.

"Although the employer took a trench box to the work site, he chose not to use it and knowingly put employees' lives in danger by having them work in an unprotected trench," said Les Grove, OSHA's acting area director in Fort Lauderdale. "It is the employer's responsibility to provide a safe workplace for employees."

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.

Ditchdiggers 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 Ft. Lauderdale Area Office at 954-424-0242.

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 or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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