Region 9 News Release: USDL-104
August 4, 1999
Contact: Leonard Limtiaco
PHONE: 775-885-6967 (U.S.)
GUAM CONSTRUCTION COMPANY FINED $115,000 FOR HAZARDOUS TRENCH PROJECT
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued citations for willful and serious violations of federal safety and health standards against a Guam construction company which allowed employees to work in a hazardous trench without adequate protections to prevent cave-ins.
Following an inspection of the Fargo Pacific, Inc. work site at the Polaris Point Naval Station, OSHA issued citations for two willful violations, which include penalties of $112,000, and one serious violation, with penalties of $3,600.
The willful violations include failure to remove water from the excavation and the lack of shoring to prevent cave-in. The serious violation is for failing to provide a competent person to oversee employee safety in the excavation.
"Fargo Pacific was charged with willful violations because the company allowed employees to work in a trench as much as ten feet deep even after receiving a warning of the hazards," explained Leonard Limtiaco, OSHA regional director of enforcement and investigations. "The U.S. Navy inspected this same site two days before OSHA investigators arrived and provided Fargo with written notice of the hazards associated with allowing work in this excavation without cave-in protection for workers."
The OSHA inspection was a routine, scheduled inspection, begun February 3, 1999. OSHA has inspected Fargo Pacific nine times in the past three years. As a result of those inspections the company has been cited for nine serious violations, five other than serious violations and six unclassified violations.
OSHA issues a willful citation only in cases in which the employer knew that a condition constituted a violation or was aware that a hazardous situation existed and made no reasonable effort to correct it. OSHA issues a serious citation only when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer either knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
The employer has 15 working days from the date of the notice to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission - a government judicial agency separate from OSHA.
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