Library's Builders Now Reading OSHA Citations for Cave-in Hazards

OSHA has cited four New York contractors, proposing a total of $130,600 in fines, for allegedly violating excavation safety standards during the ongoing construction of a new public library in Briarcliff Manor, N.Y. The citations and fines stem from an inspection begun when an OSHA inspector riving by the site saw employees working in an apparently unprotected excavation and opened an inspection on the spot.

"The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect the fact that three of these four contractors knew cave-in protection must be in place before employees entered the excavation yet elected not to provide this vital safeguard," said Diana Cortez, OSHA's area director in Tarrytown, N.Y.

Three of the employers--Fourmen Construction of Peekskill, N.Y., the project's general contractor; concrete subcontractor D&J Concrete Corp. of Millwood, N.Y.; and excavation subcontractor McNamee Construction Corp. of Lincolndale, N.Y.--were issued willful citations for failing to provide cave-in protection for their employees who were working in the unprotected 11- to 12-foot-deep excavation. They, along with the fourth employer, plumbing subcontractor L.J. Coppola Inc. of Thornwood, N.Y., were issued serious citations for failing to remove rebar and other encumbrances from the excavation's entrance. Fourmen Construction also was issued a serious citation for not having a competent person inspect the jobsite for hazards.

"While no cave-in occurred, the potential for death or disabling injury was real and present, since an unguarded excavation can collapse in seconds, crushing and burying employees before they can react or escape," said Cortez. "If employers are thinking of foregoing cave-in protection for any reason, I want them to know that OSHA inspectors will stop and open an inspection immediately whenever they observe a cave-in hazard while passing by a jobsite."

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