OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited American Excavating Corp. of Derry, New Hampshire, for an alleged WILLFUL violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at an excavation site in Londonderry, New Hampshire, and has proposed penalties totaling $27,500 for the alleged violation.
According to George Kilens, acting OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the violation was discovered during an inspection of an excavation site at the Andover Bank project in Londonderry on January 11. "Our compliance officer observed employees working in an unprotected trench exposing them to potential cave-in or collapse," he said. "Collapse protection is essential since the sides of a trench can collapse with great force and without warning, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape. Though no collapse occurred in this case, that in no way relieves an employer of the responsibility of providing this required safeguard."
Kilens explained that OSHA's excavation safety standard requires that excavations five feet or deeper must have a protective system in place to prevent cave-ins. Such protection can be supplied by shoring the trench's sidewalls or by sloping those sidewalls at a shallow angle. Yet, he noted, neither safeguard was in place or in use in the excavation at the time of the inspection.
He stressed that OSHA defines a "willful" violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and the law's regulations. It is, he noted, the most severe category of OSHA violation.
Specifically, the company is being cited for allowing employees to work in a trench which was neither properly sloped nor shored or otherwise protected from cave-ins.
Kilens urged New Hampshire employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
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, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or 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.
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