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

November 15, 2005

A Franklin, New Hampshire contractor faces $50,750 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly failing to supply cave-in protection at a Boscawen jobsite.

OSHA cited R.D. Edmunds & Sons Inc. following an inspection of a sewer line excavation on Tremont St. where, on Sept. 26, an OSHA inspector observed an employee working in a six to seven-foot deep trench that lacked cave-in protection.

The inspection also found that sections of the excavation wall had begun to pull away and had not been scaled off to prevent loose soil from dropping into the excavation. OSHA standards require that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse before employees work inside them.

“The walls of an unprotected excavation can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape,” said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director. “Protection can be provided by shoring the trench’s sidewalls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle or by use of a protective trenchbox; none of these protections were in use at the time of the inspection.”

As a result, OSHA issued one willful citation, with a $49,000 proposed penalty, for failing to supply cave-in protection and one serious citation, with a $1,750 proposed penalty, for the condition of the excavation wall.

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 from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Ohar reminded Granite State employers and workers that OSHA offers detailed information on excavation safety on its Web site: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html. A “Quick Card” about trenching safety is available in English and Spanish at: http://www.osha.gov/Publications/trench/trench_safety_tips_card.pdf.

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.

Was this article valuable?

Here are more articles you may enjoy.