OSHA has cited three contractors from Maine and New Hampshire for alleged willful violations for failing to provide adequate cave-in protection for employees working in excavations at jobsites in Portsmouth, Manchester and Exeter, N.H.
Combined penalties totaling $65,900 have been proposed against the three employers.
S.E MacMillan Co., Inc., of Bangor, Maine, faces $36,900 in fines for:
- having employees working in inadequately guarded trenches at a water line installation cite,
- operating an excavator in such a way that it contacted an overhead powerline,
- not having trench box specifications on site, and
- not removing a damaged ladder from service.
R.D. Edmunds & Sons, Inc., of Franklin, N.H., faces $22,000 in fines for:
- having employees work in an inadequately guarded trench at a water line installation cite
- not having a set of plans for the shoring system approved by a professional engineer on site
Perm A Drive Paving Co., of Conway, N.H., faces $7,000 in fines for:
- having its employees were working in inadequately guarded trenches at a sewer repair cite,
- not providing a safe means of exit from the excavation, and
- using a damaged synthetic web sling to lift a granite block.
"These citations reflect an all too common construction safety hazard," said David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, who noted that 36 American workers died in excavation collapses in 1998. "Particularly disturbing is the fact that, in all three cases, these employers knew cave-in protection was required for their employees, yet did not provide adequate safeguards for them."
May said excavation safety has long been a special emphasis for OSHA, with the agency often conducting spot inspections.
"Employers should not assume that OSHA won''t inspect their jobsite no matter where it is located," he said. "If OSHA inspectors encounter an excavation during their normal business travels, they will stop and examine it. If hazards, such as a lack of collapse protection, are observed, an inspection will be opened on the spot and violations will result in appropriate citations and fines. The simple fact is that no job, no deadline, is an excuse for failing to implement this standard, commonsense safeguard for workers."
OSHA standards require that excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against a collapse of their sidewalls. Collapse protection may be supplied by shoring the sidewalls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle or by proper use of a protective trench box.
Detailed information on identifying, evaluating and addressing excavation safety hazards is available through OSHA''s Web site, www.osha.gov. Click on "technical links," then click on "trenching and excavations."
by Melissa Martin