Region 8 News Release: 55-OSHA
Contact: Ernie Sanchez
ROBERT GIBB & SONS, INC. ISSUED PENALTY OF $126,000 FOR TWO
WILLFUL VIOLATIONS OF OSHA TRENCHING & EXCAVATING STANDARDS
Robert Gibb & Sons, Inc. of Fargo, N.D., was cited for two willful violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, and issued proposed penalties of $126,000.
The violations and the penalties were issued by the Bismarck Area Office of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an inspection of an excavation in Grand Forks, N.D. April 6, 1999.
Bruce Beelman, OSHA Area Director in Bismarck, today said the violations were for failing to provide adequate sloping, shoring, shields, or equivalent systems to protect employees from cave-in hazards. Beelman can be reached at (701) 250-4521.
Beelman added a company representative specifically responsible for recognizing and eliminating cave-in hazards, allowed employees to work in an unprotected excavation. The situation was made more hazardous because pavement above the excavation was not adequately supported to prevent its collapse onto workers in the excavation below.
Beelman said that Robert Gibb & Sons, Inc. previously was cited for the same type of violations in 1997. Citations for one willful, two repeat and two serious violations with a total penalty of $87,000 were issued at that time for an inspection at a job site in Fargo.
"There is simply no excuse for this blatant disregard for worker safety and flagrant indifference to the OSHA law," Beelman stated. "We cannot allow employers to continually place their employees at risk of death and serious injury by ignoring good safety and health practices."
Beelman said studies estimate that about 100 employees are killed in excavation-related incidents each year in the U.S. There have been 11 trench and excavation cave-in deaths in North and South Dakota since 1987.
Trenching and excavation activity has been a national priority, and inspections in that industry have been targeted since OSHA's inception in 1970.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA Act and its regulations.
Robert Gibb and Sons, Inc. has 15 working days from receipt of the citation to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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