The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Plateau Excavation of Austell, Ga., for reportedly exposing workers to trenching hazards during the installation of storm sewer lines at a Sandy Springs site. The agency is proposing penalties totaling $75,000.
“These workers were needlessly exposed to death or serious injuries from a wall collapse,” said Andre Richards, OSHA’s Atlanta-West area director. “Safe work practices can prevent a tragic accident.”
From Oct. 1, 2003 to Sept. 30, 2005, OSHA investigated 13 fatal trenching accidents in the Southeast.
OSHA issued two repeat citations to Plateau Excavation, with proposed penalties totaling $70,000, for failing to protect employees from cave-ins by using a protective system such as a trench box or properly shored or sloped trench walls; and for failing to keep excavated soil, equipment and other materials at least two feet from the edge of the excavation.
The agency issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited for substantially similar conditions and the citations have become a final order of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company was cited previously in 1998, 2000, 2001 and 2004.
The company also received one serious citation, with a proposed penalty of $5,000, for failing to train an employee to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions while working in a trench over five feet deep. The agency issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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