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OSHA News Release – Region 4
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 4 News Release: USDL: 00-157
Thurs., Sept. 7, 2000
Contact: Bill Grimes
PHONE: (770) 493-6644
CONTRACTOR FINED NEARLY $50,000 FOLLOWING TRENCH CAVE-IN AT CUMMING, GA. WORKSITE
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration today cited G.A. Fisher, doing business as Construction Services, and proposed penalties totaling $49,050 following a trenching accident at a Cumming, Ga., job site.
According to Raymond Finney, OSHA's Atlanta-East area director, an employee of the Gainesville,Ga.-based company was working in a trench connecting sections of sewer pipe when he was critically injured. Finney said, "One side of the trench caved in and the victim was completely covered with dirt. He spent three hours trapped from the waist down before the local fire department was able to rescue him."
OSHA's investigation of the accident revealed that the trench in which the victim was working was seven feet deep and only 30 inches wide. The employer was cited for one willful violation of trenching standards for failing to provide a protective system such as sloping, shoring or a trench box to protect employees from a potential cave-in. The willful violation accounted for $42,000 in proposed penalties.
The remaining $7,050 penalty was proposed for four serious violations. These included failure to train employees to recognize and avoid work-related hazardous conditions; not having a competent person inspect the trench daily to identify hazards and take corrective measures; failure to assure that employees wore hard hats, and failure to keep excavated materials at least two feet from the edge of the trench.
"The day before the accident a rented trench box was returned because it was too large to fit the narrow trench," said Finney. "The employer decided to commence work without protecting employees by other means, such as sloping or shoring the trench. If Construction Services had followed trenching standards or taken the time to obtain the correct size trench box, this tragic accident could have been prevented.
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.
A serious violation is one 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.
Inspection of the Gainesville job site was conducted by OSHA's area office located at LaVista Perimeter Office Park, Building 7, Suite 110, Tucker, Ga. 30084-4154; telephone: (770) 493-6644.
OSHA urges employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the Atlanta area office. 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 normal business hours.
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