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OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents
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NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.
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Trade News Release
Friday, September 8, 2000
Contact: Frank Meilinger
PHONE: (202) 693-1999


The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued citations with proposed penalties totaling $348,600 to a Portsmouth, Ohio, construction company for exposing employees to hazardous trenching conditions that resulted in serious injuries to workers. The proposed fines are the largest ever levied by OSHA against a trenching contractor in Ohio.

OSHA cited the company, Boone Coleman Construction, Inc., with a total of nine alleged violations, six of which are categorized as willful, the most significant violation issued by OSHA.

"These injuries were preventable. Despite warnings by Portsmouth city officials, the company failed to comply with safe trenching and excavation practices," said OSHA Administrator Charles N. Jeffress. "We simply cannot allow such flagrant disregard for workplace safety and the subjecting of workers to such hazardous and potentially life-threatening work conditions."

Boone Coleman Construction, Inc., an excavations contractor operating in southeastern Ohio, employs approximately 90 employees, 13 of whom were involved in this waterline replacement project.

OSHA performed a safety inspection following a referral from Portsmouth city officials, who had made several unsuccessful attempts to get Boone Coleman Construction to comply with safe trenching and excavation practices, even after an earlier cave-in incident in which two employees narrowly escaped injury.

Portsmouth city personnel, who had received OSHA-funded training in trenching safety and rescue procedures, assisted in the rescue response freeing two workers trapped during a cave-in at the site on March 28, 2000. The OSHA-funded training was conducted by the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees (AFSCME) to provide safety and health training for workers in jobs with high-risk activities or hazards, which includes the construction industry.

OSHA cited the company with six willful violations for failure to provide proper protective systems for workers in trenches in excess of five feet deep. Total proposed penalties for the willful violations are $336,600.

Three serious violations were issued for failure to train employees in requirements of the excavation standard and failure to support undermined pavement, sidewalk or similar structures from possible collapse. Total proposed penalties for the serious violations are $12,600.

Boone Coleman Construction, Inc., has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.


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

(Editor's Note: See attached fact sheet for Summary of Citations and Proposed Penalties)

Summary of Citations and Proposed Penalties

Boone Coleman Construction, Inc.
Portsmouth, Ohio

Alleged Willful Violations

  • Six instances of failure to provide cave-in protection for trenches in excess of 5' in depth ($56,000 per instance)

Total proposed penalties for alleged willful violations are $336,000. 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.

Alleged Serious Violations

  • Failure to train in the recognition and avoidance of trenching hazards (total penalty $4,200)

  • Unprotected underground utility lines (total penalty $4,200)

  • Failure to provide support systems or other methods to protect employees from hazards of collapse of undermined pavements (total penalty $4,200)

Total proposed serious violations are $12,600. 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.


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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