U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety & Health Administration (OSHA)

Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping cited for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins while installing water mains

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HAMILTON, Ohio -- Exposing workers to cave-in hazards while installing water mains has resulted in Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping Inc. being cited for one willful and one serious safety violation by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration. OSHA opened the April 27 inspection after observing employees working in three separate unprotected trenches on Symmes Road in Hamilton. Proposed penalties total $77,000.

'OSHA has cited Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping three times in the past year for failing to utilize the many forms of cave-in protection available to keep workers in trenches safe. The fact that three separate crews were working simultaneously without using cave-in protection demonstrates that this company does not have an adequate safety program,' said Bill Wilkerson, OSHA's area director for Cincinnati. 'Trench cave-ins can bury a worker in minutes and result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year.'

OSHA initiated the inspection under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation, which was implemented in the 1980s.

One willful violation was cited for failing to ensure workers were protected by placing side wall protection into each of the three, 6 foot deep trenches. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available.

A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The investigation also found that the company did not implement an adequate safety program, including failing to train workers on safe excavation and trenching. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Mt. Pleasant Blacktopping Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety & Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Cincinnati Area Office at 513-841-4132.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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