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Region 1 News Release:   BOS 2000-132
Monday, September 21, 2000
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074


The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Combat Corp., a Merrimack, New Hampshire, contractor for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Londonderry, N.H., worksite and has proposed penalties totaling $22,450.

According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection conducted August 25, 2000, at a water main installation site located at the intersection of Route 128 and Fieldstone Drive in Londonderry and concern inadequate safeguards for employees working in two excavations which were not protected against cave-ins.

"The inspection found employees working in not one, but two, unprotected trenches, ranging from six-and-one-half to eight-and-one-half feet in depth, that lacked any safeguards to prevent their sidewalls from collapsing and trapping those workers," he said.

Noting Bureau of Labor Statistics figures which show that 36 American workers died in excavation collapses in 1998, May emphasized the swift and deadly nature of unprotected excavations:

"We're not talking about a sandbox. Soil is heavy: a cubic foot can weigh in excess of one hundred pounds; a cubic yard can weigh as much as a compact car," he said. "Expand those to a wall that's six, eight or more feet in depth and you get a sense of the weight and force involved. And, remember that a trench wall can collapse in the blink of an eye, stunning, crushing and burying workers before they have a chance to react or escape.

May explained that, before employees enter any excavation four feet or more in depth, it must be protected against collapse by shoring its sidewalls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle, or by use of a protective trench box.

"There's no excuse not to do so," he said "Collapse protection should be just as much a part of the worksite as a hardhat or a toolbox. It's that simple, it's that clear -- and it's the law."

Specifically, the citations and $22,450 in penalties encompass:

  • One alleged Willful violation, with $22,000 in penalties proposed, for:
    - employees working in two excavations which had not been properly sloped or shored against collapse.

  • One alleged Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $450, for:
    - an excavation lacking a ladder, stairway or other safe means of exit.

May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord 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.

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.

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.

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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