Region 9 News Release: USDL-117
September 9, 1999
Contact: Tino Serrano
TWO GUAM CONSTRUCTION COMPANIES FINED $300,300 FOR HAZARDOUS TRENCHING PROJECTS
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations for willful and serious violations, and proposed penalties of $300,300, against a Guam construction company and one of its subcontractors following an OSHA investigation of a trench cave-in which injured three workers.
OSHA issued citations for three willful violations with multiple instances and one serious violation, including proposed penalties of $172,200, to Core Tech International. OSHA issued similar citations, and proposed penalties of $128,100, to CTI subcontractor Big Light Construction.
The willful violations against both companies are for failure to provide cave-in protection for Big Light Construction employees working in excavations on the Tumon Bay Infrastructure Beautification Project despite a previous citation from OSHA and numerous warnings from the onsite management contractor. The serious violations are for failing to have a competent person inspect the excavations to verify that cave-in protections were in place prior to allowing employees into the excavations.
The citations resulted from an OSHA inspection of a March 10, 1999 trench cave-in which trapped and injured three Big Light workers. Two of the injured were admitted to a hospital for treatment. One of them required extensive emergency surgery to repair fractured ribs and damage to his internal organs. The third worker was treated at the scene and released.
"The violations by Core Tech International and Big Light Construction are especially egregious because both employers were advised of the dangers on numerous occasions and knowingly continued to place their workers at risk. The injured workers in this case are lucky to be alive," said Frank Strasheim, regional administrator for OSHA in San Francisco.
According to Strasheim, the blatant disregard for worker safety despite numerous warnings is reprehensible. "Three days after the trench collapsed, project workers were back in the unprotected trenches. The company corrected the hazard only when OSHA posted a Notice of Imminent Danger and threatened to stop work in the trench by court order."
Core Tech was inspected and cited for similar conditions in January 1999. That case was subsequently contested by the company.
The employer has 15 working days from the date of the notice to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission - a government judicial agency separate from OSHA.
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