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Region 4 News Release: USDOL: 00-93
Wednesday, June 7, 2000
Contact: James Borders
CONTRACTOR FINED $112,000 FOLLOWING FATAL ACCIDENT AT JACKSONVILLE, FLA., CONSTRUCTION SITE
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) yesterday cited J.B. Coxwell Contracting, Inc. and proposed penalties totaling $112,050 following a fatal accident that occurred Dec. 22, 1999, at a Jacksonville, Fla. construction site.
According to James Borders, OSHA's Jacksonville area director, the accident occurred at a road widening and storm drainage project on San Jose Boulevard. At the time of the accident, the victim was working in a nine-foot deep trench. When rigging used to lower five-ton pipe into the excavation failed, the worker was hit and killed as the pipe rolled toward him in the trench.
Struck by is one of the four hazards addressed in Florida's Construction Accident Reduction Emphasis (CARE) program. CARE was initiated in 1999 to reduce the number of construction fatalities in Florida. Last year, 54 construction workers lost their lives in Florida from on-the-job accidents.
OSHA's inspection of the fatality resulted in citations for three serious violations, including two that dealt with the failed rigging -- overloading the wire rope choker sling and not inspecting the threads of the load hook used to lift five-ton pipes. The company received a third serious citation for not providing an exit ladder near employees working in the trench. The three serious violations drew penalties totaling $13,050.
The remaining $99,000 penalty was proposed for two willful violations of OSHA's trenching standards. These included not keeping the spoil pile back from the edge of the nine-foot deep excavation and not protecting employees working in the trench from cave-in hazards by properly sloping the trench walls or using trench boxes.
"Company managers had first-hand knowledge of the dangerous working conditions at the Jacksonville site," said Borders. "Trench walls were not properly sloped and even though trench boxes were available, management made a decision not to use them. Additionally, a spoil pile was close enough to the edge of the trench to compromise the stability of the trench wall." Borders added, "The situation was further aggravated by the fact that an excavator was sitting on top of the spoil pile increasing the possibility of a cave-in."
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 a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
J.B. Coxwell which was recently acquired by APAC, Inc., employs more than 300 workers, 50 of whom were working on the drainage project at the time of the fatal accident. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Inspection of the Jacksonville worksite was conducted by OSHA's area office located at the Ribault Building, Room 227, 1851 Executive Center Dr., Jacksonville, Fla. 32207; telephone: (904) 232-2895.
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