OSHA Cites Pair of Contractors for Cave-In Hazards

August 11, 2005

Two Granite State contractors face a total of $29,900 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for reportedly failing to supply cave-in protection and other safeguards for employees working in an excavation at a Wolfeboro, New Hampshire, job site.

Perm-A-Drive Paving Co. Inc. of Conway and Envirotex Construction Services Inc. of Milford were cited following a June 13 inspection of a job site at Center St. in Wolfeboro where workers were replacing a water main. An OSHA inspector passing by the job site observed two employees working in a 7-foot deep, straight-walled trench that was neither sloped nor shored to protect against a wall collapse.

“OSHA standards clearly mandate that excavations five feet or deeper must be safeguarded against cave-ins, yet the required protections were not in use at this location,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “These employers knew such protection was necessary but did not provide it even though a trench can collapse without warning and crush workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape.”

Each company was issued a willful citation for failing to provide cave-in protection and two serious citations for allowing a damaged sling to be used to lift construction loads and failing to provide an adequate ladder to enter and exit the trench. Perm-A-Drive was fined $23,200; Envirotex was fined $6,700.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations 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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