OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Heitkamp, Inc., a Watertown, Connecticut, contractor, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act on a Concord, New Hampshire, project and has proposed penalties totaling $45,500.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violations were discovered during inspections conducted in Concord between September 8 and 20, 1999, and chiefly concern hazards involving employees working in unprotected trenches and riding moving equipment. Heitkamp, Inc. is performing maintenance on water lines in Concord and had about thirteen employees on the job at the time of the inspections.
"OSHA opened an inspection on September 8th, when employees were observed riding on the sides and rear of a moving backhoe, a prohibited action which exposed workers to the hazards of falling off and being struck or run over by such moving equipment," said May. "The inspection determined that this was a common practice on this job, the backhoe being in effect an unauthorized and highly dangerous taxi for workers moving from one point on the jobsite to another."
On September 20, another inspection was begun at an excavation located at the intersection of Centre and Liberty Streets where employees were observed working in a trench that lacked adequate protection against a possible collapse of its sidewalls onto those workers.
"Not only did this excavation lack adequate cave-in protection, a portion of the roadway was undermined at the edge of the trench, employees who entered the excavation to install shoring were not protected against collapse hazards, and inspections that could have identified and corrected these hazards had not been conducted," said May.
May explained that cave-in protection is essential when employees work in an excavation since its walls can collapse without warning and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before those workers have a chance to react or escape.
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord at (603) 225-1629 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.
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.
An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.
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.
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