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OSHA ALLEGES CONTRACTOR DID NOT PROVIDE CAVE-IN PROTECTION FOR WORKERS IN LONDONDERRY, N. H., EXCAVATIONS
BOSTON -- A Texas-based contractor's apparent failure to supply cave-in protection for eight employees working in three excavations at a Londonderry, N.H, gas pipeline installation project has resulted in proposed fines totaling $59,000.
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Gregory & Cook Construction, Inc., of Houston, for alleged willful and serious safety violations discovered in an Aug. 17, spot inspection at a job site on Elijah Hill Lane in Londonderry. The alleged willful citation is for failure to supply adequate cave-in protection.
"Protection could have been provided by shoring the sidewalls of these excavations, sloping them at a shallow angle or using a trench box, yet none of these well-known and legally required safeguards were in place or in use," said David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, who noted that Gregory & Cook had been cited for similar violations twice before at job sites in Maine and Iowa.
Bureau of Labor Statistics data show that 40 workers died last year in excavation collapses in the U. S. OSHA standards require cave-in protection for excavations five feet or more in depth since their sidewalls can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and crushing workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape.
Employers and employees in the Granite State with questions about excavation safety or other workplace safety and health standards may contact the OSHA area office in Concord at 603-225-1629. Information on OSHA standards, including help in recognizing, evaluating and controlling excavation hazards is available via the Internet in the Technical Links section of OSHA's website, www.osha-slc.gov .
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 -- such as unguarded excavations -- posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
FACT SHEET - Citations and Proposed Penalties
Gregory & Cook Construction, Inc. - Londonderry, NH job sites
OSHA has proposed a total of $59,000 in fines for:
One alleged willful violation, with a proposed fine of $55,000, for failure to supply adequate cave-in protection for employees working in excavations in the following instances:
- employees were inspecting weld coatings in an excavation located on the East Side of Elijah Hill Lane that was not properly shored nor sloped;
- employees were placing sandbags in an excavation located on the West Side of Elijah Hill Lane that was not properly shored nor sloped;
- employees were welding pipe in an excavation located between Elijah Hill Lane and Bockes Road that was not properly shored nor sloped;
[Gregory & Cook Construction was previously cited for substantially similar violations in November 1998 and March 1999, following inspections at worksites in, respectively, Brooklyn, Iowa, and Gorham, Maine.]
Two alleged serious violations, with $4,000 in fines proposed, for failure to provide a safe means of access to one of the excavations and failure to provide guardrails for a walkway over the excavation.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its latest 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.
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.
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.
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.
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