OSHA Cites Ala. Contractor for Trenching Hazards

July 16, 2004

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Wadsworth-Phillips Contractors Inc., headquartered in Montgomery, Alabama, for allegedly exposing workers to willful and serious trench safety violations at a Montgomery worksite in January.

“We must ensure that employers protect their workers from occupational hazards, so that injury and illness rates continue to decline, U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine Chao said. “The significant penalty of $103,000 proposed in this case demonstrates the Administration’s commitment to protecting the health and safety of America’s workers.”

OSHA cited the company for two alleged willful safety violations, with proposed penalties of $99,000. The citations were issued because the company reportedly allowed employees to work in two trenches with vertical walls, at depths of six and nine feet, without providing protection from cave-ins. It also allowed piles of dirt and rock to be located within two feet of the trenches. The company had been cited previously for similar violations.

Wadsworth-Phillips was also cited for an alleged serious safety violation, with a proposed penalty of $4,000, for failure to train employees to recognize hazards associated with trenching. OSHA issues serious citations when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company has 15 days to contest the OSHA citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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