Worker's Death Results $64,050 in Proposed Penalties for Employer

July 31, 2002
A Baton Rouge, La. company's alleged failure to protect employees from trench cave-ins has resulted in the death of one employee and proposed penalties of $64,050 from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

General Engineering & Environmental Companies Inc. was cited with four alleged safety violations following an OSHA inspection that began Feb. 23. The inspection was made following notification of a trench collapse at the company's worksite in Franklinton, La., which resulted in a fatality.

"A company's failure to protect its workers from cave-ins is simply unacceptable," said John Miles, OSHA's regional administrator in Dallas. "Adhering to OSHA standards regarding the proper sloping, shoring and shielding of an excavation site can save lives."

Three alleged willful violations were cited for failing to protect employees working inside trenches from cave-ins, failing to properly slope and/or shore trenches and failing to take appropriate measure when a cave-in hazard is recognized. A willful violation is defined as an intentional disregard of or plain indifference to the requirements of the OSHA Act and regulations.

The one alleged serious violation was issued for failing to provide employees with head protection while exposed to falling soil deposits. A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm to employees and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.

General Engineering & Environmental Companies has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the Baton Rouge area office or to contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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