Construction Firm Cited for Willful and Serious Safety Hazards

The Middleburg, Fla., company faces $169,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA announced an enforcement action against Vallencourt Construction Co. Inc., stating that the company knowingly endangered employees at a residential construction site by allowing them to work in an unprotected excavation on Las Calinas Boulevard in St. Augustine, Fla. OSHA cited Vallencourt for two willful and five serious safety violations.

"Vallencourt's on-site managers saw workers in an unprotected excavation and knew the employees had not followed proper safety procedures, but they failed to take action to protect the workers," said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA's Jacksonville Area Office. "An employer that willfully disregards safety procedures puts workers at risk of being killed or seriously injured. OSHA standards exist to save lives."

OSHA issued the willful citations, with $140,000 in penalties, to the employer for allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection and failing to ensure soil and rocks were 2 feet from the excavation's edge to prevent these materials from falling in and injuring workers.

The serious violations, with $29,000 in penalties, were issued for failure to conduct inspections on equipment used to lift construction materials, such as slings hooks and cables; remove damaged lifting equipment from service; and use lifting equipment in a manner not intended by the manufacturer.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses.

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