OSHA Cites N.H. Contractor for Cave-In Hazard

September 27, 2005

A Manchester, New Hampshire contractor faces $28,100 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly failing to supply cave-in protection for workers at a Hooksett jobsite.

OSHA cited Pichette Brothers Construction Co. Inc. following inspection of a sewer installation project on Rte. 3 in Hooksett. On Aug. 24, an OSHA inspector observed five company employees installing a catch basin in a 13-foot deep excavation that was not sloped, shored or otherwise protected against collapse. In addition, not all of the employees in the excavation wore helmets to protect against falling debris or equipment.

“The OSHA requirement that all excavations five feet or deeper be equipped with collapse protection is clear and well-known to this employer, who chose to disregard it” said Rose Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “Had this excavation collapsed, five workers could have been buried beneath tons of soil and debris before they had a chance to react or escape.”

OSHA issued Pichette Brothers one willful citation with a $27,500 fine for failing to supply cave-in protection and one serious citation with a $600 fine for lack of head protection. 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.

The 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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