OSHA Blasts N.J. Construction Firm for Trenching Hazards, Issues $158,400 in Penalties

The willful violations involve failing to ensure that the excavation spoil pile was at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation, ensure that the ladder extended 3 feet above the level being accessed, and provide cave-in protection for employees working in the excavation.

OSHA has cited Roselle, N.J.-based A-Absolute Construction Inc. for three willful, one repeat, and six serious violations at the company's Parsippany, N.J., worksite, including exposing workers to trenching and other hazards. Proposed penalties total $158,400.

"In 2008, an unprotected trench at an A-Absolute site caved in and trapped a worker, yet the company continues to place workers in harm's way by not taking necessary measures to prevent trench collapses," said Kris E. Hoffman, OSHA's area director in Parsippany. "OSHA will not tolerate employers risking the lives of their workers."

The willful violations, with $128,700 in penalties, involve failing to ensure that the excavation spoil pile was at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation, ensure that the ladder extended 3 feet above the level being accessed, and provide cave-in protection for employees working in the excavation.

The repeat violation, with a $9,240 penalty, was cited for failing to ensure that daily inspections were conducted by a competent person. The company was cited for a similar violation in 2008 at its Sayreville worksite.

The serious violations, with $20,460 in penalties, include failing to train workers in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe trenching conditions, provide traffic control signage for the work zone, use a safe and acceptable means to determine the estimated location of underground utilities, implement respiratory protection and hazard communication programs, provide training and conduct medical evaluations for workers required to use respirators, provide training for employees who use hazardous chemicals, and provide material safety data sheets at the site for hazardous chemicals.

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