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OSHA News Release – Region 4
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 4 News Release: USDL: 00-89
Tuesday, May 30, 2000
Contact: CLYDE PAYNE
PHONE: (601) 965-4606 ext.0
OSHA FINES CONSTRUCTION COMPANY $77,000 IN FATAL TRENCH CAVE-IN AT JACKSON WORKSITE
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited Max Foote Construction Company, Inc., and proposed penalties totaling $77,000 following a fatal trench cave-in at a Jackson, Miss, worksite.
According to Clyde Payne, OSHA's Jackson area director, an employee working in a trench was killed when a portion of the excavation's wall caved in and buried him inside a trench shield.
At the time of the accident, the Mandeville, La.-based company was doing construction and improvement work for the Savannah Street Wastewater Treatment Plant. OSHA inspectors found that workers in a trench were protected by a 20-foot long, eight-foot high trench shield while installing a french drain pipe in an excavation ranging from 19.5 to 21 feet deep. Although the 12 feet of trench wall above the shield had been sloped, the sloping was inadequate to protect the workers in the trench. In addition, the company failed to use additional trench shields which were on-site at the time of the accident.
OSHA cited Max Foote Construction Company and proposed a penalty of $70,000 for one alleged willful violation and $7,000 for one alleged serious violation of trench safety standards. The agency charged that the company failed to protect employees working in an excavation from cave-in hazards and did not assure that a competent person inspected the site daily.
"If the walls of the trench above the trench shield had been properly sloped, this accident and resultant fatality could have been prevented," said Payne. "This employer was well aware of OSHA's trench standards and the hazards associated with this type of work -- once a collapse begins there is generally no way or time to escape from the crushing force of the earth from above."
Payne continued, "With effective implementation of their own safety and health program and adherence to OSHA standards, this company could have eliminated the cave-in hazard and prevented this tragic loss of life."
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
Max Foote Construction Company, Inc., employs approximately 114 workers, 15 of whom were working at the Jackson site. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Payne urges Mississippi employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health to contact OSHA's Jackson area office at (601) 965-4606 ext.0.
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