Contractor Fined for Knowingly Putting Workers at Risk of Trench Collapse

DHC Contracting faces $57,900 in OSHA fines for allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection while installing a replacement manhole

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James Marlowe, doing business as DHC Contracting, Statesboro, Ga., faces proposed penalties of $57,900 for one willful and three serious OSHA citations. At the time of the inspection, workers were installing a replacement manhole at the South Effingham Waste Water Effluent Pump Station on Hodgeville Road, Guyton, Ga.

OSHA issued the employer one willful citation for allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection. OSHA requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5-feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses. Protection may be provided through shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or by using a protective trench box. Additionally, three serious citations were issued for failing to provide a safe entrance and exit from the trench, not requiring employees to wear head protection while working in a trench where falling objects could result in injury and allowing employees to use a chop saw to cut concrete without wearing proper eye protection. 

"James Marlowe was at the worksite watching his employees work in an unprotected excavation and recognized the hazardous condition that existed, but didn't take action to protect them from being engulfed and crushed by a wall collapse," said Robert Vazzi, OSHA's area director in Savannah. "For an employer to knowingly disregard the lives of their workers is unconscionable." 

The citations can be viewed at:*

DHC Contracting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.