Cave-in Hazards Could Cost Connecticut Contractor $61,800

OSHA has cited Folsom Construction LLC, a South Windsor, Conn., contractor, for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of excavation safety standards at a worksite in Rockville, Conn. The company faces a total of $61,800 in proposed fines.

"The gravity of this type of hazard cannot be overstated," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's acting area director in Hartford, Conn. "The collapsing walls of a trench can crush or bury workers in seconds. That's why a trench must have effective cave-in protection in place and in use every time workers enter it. The alternative could be swift and serious injury or death."

OSHA inspectors opened the inspection on May 25 upon observing workers in an apparently unprotected trench at a water main installation site on a Rockville intersection. OSHA found that the trench lacked a protective system to prevent its walls from collapsing, thus exposing employees to potential cave-in hazards.

The workers in the trench were also exposed to being struck by loose rock or soil dropping from the face of the trench, and to cave-in and struck-by hazards from excavated soil and debris piled at the trench's edge. Finally, the trench lacked a safe means of egress, exposing workers to falls of up to 8 feet.

As a result of its findings, OSHA issued Folsom one willful citation with a proposed fine of $42,000 for the lack of cave-in protection, one repeat citation with a fine of $8,400 for the struck-by hazard from the excavation's face, and three serious citations with $11,400 in fines for the remaining items. The repeat citation stemmed from a 2007 OSHA citation for a similar hazard at a jobsite in Middletown, Conn.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

Folsom has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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