Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-019
Thursday, February 4, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald, (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES LONDONDERRY, NEW HAMPSHIRE, CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT CONCORD, N.H., TRENCHING WORKSITE; PROPOSES $30,000 IN PENALTIES
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Haron Corp, a contractor based in Londonderry, New Hampshire, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Concord, N.H., trenching worksite and has proposed penalties totaling $30,000.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection conducted January 22, 1999, at a telephone line installation site located on Langley Parkway, near Concord Hospital, and concern lack of cave-in protection for an employee working in a trench more than five feet in depth and failure to remove the employee from the trench after indications of a potential collapse of the trench's sidewalls were observed.
"OSHA standards require that an effective form of collapse protection be in use before workers enter a trench and also that the competent person on site -- that is, the person with both the knowledge to spot hazards and the authority to fix them -- remove workers from the hazardous area whenever indications of a possible cave-in are observed," said May. "In addition, excavated material must be placed back at least two feet from the edge of the trench and a ladder or other safe means of exit must be provided within 25 feet of where employees are working in the trench. In this case, these procedures were not followed."
Specifically the citations and $30,000 in proposed penalties encompass the following:
One alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $27,500, for:
an employee was working in an excavation that was not adequately shored or sloped against a collapse of its walls; and the competent person on site did not remove employees from the trench when indications of a cave-in were observed.
[A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations]
Two alleged Serious violations, with proposed penalties of $2,500, for:
a safe means of egress was not provided within 25 feet of where employees were working in the trench;
spoils were placed at the edge of the excavation.
[A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard]
May explained that cave-in protection is a vital necessity for employees working in such situations since a trench's sidewalls can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of earth before they have a chance to react or escape. Collapse protection can be supplied in a number of ways, including sloping the trench walls at a shallow angle, shoring up the sidewalls or by use of a protective trench box.
He noted that excavation safety is the subject of national emphasis program for OSHA. Under that program, OSHA inspectors will stop and examine any trench they encounter in the course of their duties. If apparent hazards are observed, the inspector will open an inspection on the spot and any hazards that are identified will result in appropriate citations and penalties.
"That's what happened in this case," said May. "An OSHA inspector who was in the vicinity on another matter saw the excavation, observed potentially hazardous conditions and immediately opened the inspection. These citations and proposed fines are the result."
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord at 603-225-1629 and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request.
Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.