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OSHA News Release – Region 3
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 3 News Release: III-01-08-02-076-NEP
Thurs., Aug. 2, 2001
Contact: Kate Dugan
Office: (215) 861-5101
After Hours: (610) 522-9484
OSHA PROPOSES $113,000 PENALTY AGAINST MOSCOW, PA COMPANY FOLLOWING DEATH OF WORKER
WILKES-BARRE, Pa. -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration today issued citations for alleged willful, serious and repeat violations of safety and health standards and proposed penalties of $113,000 against James T. O'Hara Co., of Moscow, Pa. following an inspection of a trench cave-in where one worker died.
The alleged willful violations are categorized as egregious. "This employer has considerable history with OSHA which resulted in citations and penalties for failure to protect workers in trenches," said Andrew Hedesh, area director of the Wilkes-Barre OSHA office. "After every inspection the employer promised to correct the hazards but continued to exhibit a blatant disregard for the safety of his employees."
The company was doing excavation work in Wilkes-Barre, on Feb. 16, when a trench collapsed killing one worker and seriously injuring another. The company is also being cited for failure to protect workers in a trench on Feb. 6 on the same site at the beginning of the project.
The two alleged egregious, willful violations, with a proposed penalty of $49,000 each, were issued for exposing employees to cave-ins. A $9,000 penalty was proposed for alleged serious violations for failure to place the spoil pile at least two feet from the edge of the excavation, not maintaining a safety and health program, and not providing a support system to protect workers below a weakened sidewalk.
The alleged repeat violation, with a penalty of $6,000, was for failure to provide a stairway, structural ramp or ladder in the excavation where employees were working and failure to provide adequate training regarding excavation hazards.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations. Serious violations are defined as those in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The investigation was conducted by the Wilkes-Barre OSHA office, The Stegmaier Building, room 410, 7 North Wilkes-Barre Blvd., Wilkes-Barre, Pa. 18702, telephone (570) 826-6538.
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