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Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-026
Friday, February 19, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald 617-565-2074 or Frank Kane 202-693-1999

Citations follow Inspections at Sites in Newton, Greenland, Stratham & Newington


Three contractors working on a natural gas line in New Hampshire have been cited for numerous safety violations, some of which could have caused serious or even fatal trenching accidents.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposed penalties totaling $666,100.

"Fortunately, no workers were hurt or killed on this job from the conditions that were cited," Secretary of Labor Alexis M. Herman said. "But violations such as the ones found on this project turn trenches into graves. Twenty-five workers were killed nationwide in 1998 in trenches that caved-in because they were not dug or shored properly. Construction contractors must dig trenches, not graves."

The three companies were building a 30-mile segment of pipeline in southern New Hampshire. Once completed, the 300-mile pipeline will go from Massachusetts through New Hampshire, Maine and Vermont to Canada, serving areas along the route.

Three of the project's contractors -- PNGTS Operating Company, LLC, Portsmouth, N.H., the project's construction manager; Delta Gulf Corp., Shreveport, La., the project's general contractor; and Consolidated NDE, Inc., Woodbridge, N.J., a construction subcontractor -- were cited for alleged willful violations of OSHA trenching standards.

"OSHA and state safety offices conducted more than 2,500 trenching inspections last year," said Charles N. Jeffress, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health. "Trenching accidents are preventable. We will hammer away at this message until everyone gets it."

A trench collapse can be prevented by shoring or sloping the sides or by use of a device known as a trench box. OSHA inspectors said that the contractors had trench boxes available but failed to use them to protect the workers.

The alleged violations were discovered during inspections conducted between August and October 1998 at pipeline installation sites in Newton, Greenland, Stratham and Newington, N.H. OSHA inspectors observed workers in inadequately protected excavations up to 18 feet deep, some with water in the excavations, and told the contractors they must provide adequate protection. The contractors continued to operate in violation of the regulations.

Delta Gulf was cited for 6 willful, 38 serious and 5 other-than-serious violations, with total proposed penalties of $381,600. PNGTS Operating Company was cited for six willful and six serious violations, with proposed penalties totaling $240,500. Consolidated was cited for one willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $44,000.

Several recent trenching accidents have received nationwide attention, such as cases in Tennessee and California when workers were trapped for many hours before rescue. In Missouri on Jan. 29, a worker was buried alive and died when he entered an unshored 10-foot trench to unearth a broken sewer line.

Federal and state OSHA programs conduct seminars and information sessions on trenching safety throughout the country. The agency also sponsors a free consultation program through state agencies or universities that can help construction companies find the best ways to meet OSHA trenching requirements.

"Excavations," a 24-page guide to the OSHA trenching standard is available for $1.25 (order #029-016-00167-1) from the Government Printing Office by calling 202-512-1800 or faxing 202-512-2250. This booklet and additional materials are also available on the Internet at http://www.osha.gov under "Technical Links," subcategory "Trenching and Excavation."

The firms have 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


(Editor's Note: See Attached Fact Sheet for Summary of Citations and Penalties)

The text of this news release is on the Internet World Wide Web at http://www.osha.gov.
Information on this news release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: 202-693-1999.




Delta Gulf

Six alleged willful violations of the standard requiring adequate protection of an excavation, with penalties of $49,500 for each instance.

  Proposed Penalties, $297,000

Thirty-eight alleged serious violations involving such items as cranes, slings, pipelaying equipment, and employees riding equipment in an unsafe manner, with penalties of $1,350 to $4,500 for each violation.

  Proposed Penalties, $84,600

Five alleged other-than-serious violations involving items such as damaged wire rope on a pipelayer and not providing fire extinguishers on pipelayers.

  Total Proposed Penalties for Delta Gulf, $381,600

PNGTS Operating Company, LLC

Six alleged willful violations of the standard requiring adequate protection of an excavation, with penalties of $38,500 for each violation.

  Proposed Penalties, $231,000

Six alleged serious violations, involving such items as failure to have an inspection program for pipelaying equipment and modifying the equipment in an unsafe manner.

  Proposed Penalties, $9,500
  Total Proposed Penalties for PNGTS Operating Co., $240,500

Consolidated NDE

One alleged willful violation of the standard requiring adequate protection of an excavation.

  Proposed Penalty, $44,000

How OSHA classifies violations:

Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.

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. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm, but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and/or health of employees.


Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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