OSHA Cites Wynantskill, N.Y., Employer for Crushing Hazard

For exposing employees to a potential crushing accident from an unprotected trench and a damaged sling, Casale Excavating Inc. of Wynantskill, N.Y., has been cited by OSHA for alleged serious and repeat safety violations carrying proposed penalties totaling $23,100.

According to John Tomich, OSHA area director in Albany, the citations result from an inspection by his office of an excavation site in North Greenbush, N.Y., on Nov. 5. The inspection found that an employee of Casale Excavating was working in an excavation 6 feet deep that was not protected from cave-in. Employees were also observed using a damaged synthetic web sling to lift and position sections of 8-inch water pipe that were being lowered into the excavation.

"OSHA's safety standards require employers to protect employees from hazards that threaten life and limb," said Tomich. "In this case, the workers could have easily been buried in a trench cave-in or crushed by a dropped section of pipe. The trenching hazards are similar to ones for which this company has been cited before."

Casale Excavating will receive citations for one alleged serious violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $2,100 for allowing employees to use a damaged sling to lift heavy sections of piping, and for two alleged repeat violations with proposed penalties totaling $21,000.

The repeat citations charge the company with exposing employees to the hazards of working in an unprotected, 6-foot deep trench and failing to have a competent person inspect the excavation, adjacent areas and protective systems before the work began and as needed throughout the shift. The company was cited for similar violations in citations issued Aug. 18, 2000.

A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew, or should have known. A repeat violation occurs when a company has been cited for similar violations within the past three years.

The company has 15 days to comply with the citations, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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