Closner Construction Co. in Laredo, Texas, Fined $78,600

OSHA issued $78,600 in fines against a Laredo construction company because it failed to provide its employees with adequate protection and training for the dangers of cave-ins and other hazardous conditions.

OSHA's Corpus Christi area office began an investigation Feb. 20 during a planned inspection at the company's worksite in Laredo. Closner Construction Co., headquartered in Laredo, specializes in highway road construction and employs about 65 workers. Four were at the worksite.

OSHA cited Closner Construction with one serious and five repeat violations of safety standards. The alleged repeat violations include failing to conduct regular safety inspections, failing to adequately train employees on the hazards of possible trenching and cave-ins and failing to provide safe egress from a trench. Workers should install a ladder or ramp for easy access and egress. OSHA's investigation revealed that neither was provided. A repeat violation is defined as a violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

The alleged serious violation was for exposing employees to unhealthful working conditions by providing them with one common drinking cup, which can cause serious health problems. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"This company has had five inspections since March 2000 resulting in penalties totaling almost $20,000," said John Giefer, area director of OSHA's Corpus Christi area office. "Repeated incidents indicate the company's indifference."

Closner Construction Co. has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with Giefer, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health and Review Commission.

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