Failure to Protect against Cave-in Hazards Means Fines for Four Contractors

The failure of four contractors to provide cave-in protection for workers at jobsites in Concord, Brentwood, Meredith and Keene, N.H. has resulted in a total of $83,500 in fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

The alleged violations, uncovered during recent inspections, highlight a basic construction safety requirement that excavations five or more feet deep must be protected against collapse, according to David May OSHA's New Hampshire area director.

"An excavation's sidewalls can collapse suddenly with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they can react or escape," May said, adding that 31 American workers died in excavation collapses in 2000. "That makes it imperative that excavations be shored, sloped at a shallow angle or that a protective device such a trench box be used before workers enter. There is neither room nor time for error."

W. Walsh Co. Inc., of Attleboro, Mass., was issued an alleged willful violation for an unguarded trench at a fire hydrant installation site at Bradley and Winter Streets in Concord with proposed penalties of $33,000. The company was previously cited on April 26 and on Aug. 1, 2001 for similar violations.

Brookstone Builders of Manchester, N.H. faces $27,000 in fines for an alleged willful violation for employees working in an excavation that was neither properly shored nor sloped against collapse for an unguarded 15-foot deep elevator pit at the construction site of the Rockingham County Nursing Home in Brentwood. OSHA previously cited the company on Oct. 24, 1994 for a similar violation. The company was also issued two alleged repeat violations for an unguarded walkway and unguarded window openings - previously citations were issued on Aug. 16, 1999 - and one alleged serious violation for an uncovered and unsecured floor hole.

John H. Lyman & Sons Inc. of Gilford was issued $16,500 in proposed fines for an alleged willful violation for an unguarded excavation at a pipeline installation site at the junction of Routes 25 and 3 in Meredith. The company received a citation from OSHA on June 2, 1999 for a violation at a worksite in Concord. The company also received one alleged other-than-serious violation for storing a pile of excavated material within two feet of the excavation's edge.

Hodgkins and Sons Inc., of Bellows Falls, Vt., received one alleged willful violation for employees working in an unguarded excavation at a jobsite at 229 Main St. in Keene and was issued $7,000 in proposed fines.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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