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Georgia Telecommunications Contractor Cited for Exposing Employees to Excavation Hazards After Fatal Incident

The company faces over $58,000 in fines after an employee was fatally injured in a trench collapse.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Triple S Communications Inc. for violations of OSHA’s trenching and excavation standards after an employee was fatally injured in a trench collapse at a De Soto, Georgia, worksite. The Moultrie, Georgia, telecommunications installation contractor faces $58,025 in penalties.

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The employee was fatally injured while performing fiber optic connections. OSHA initiated the inspection as a result of the incident and as part of the National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

OSHA cited the company for failing to train employees on how to recognize trench safety hazards, have a competent person conduct trench inspections, provide a safe means of egress from the excavation and prevent water accumulation inside the excavation. OSHA also cited the employer for allowing employees to work in the 10-foot excavation without shoring, sloping or shielding trench walls, and failing to report a fatality within eight hours, as required.

“Excavation collapses are among the most dangerous hazards in the workplace. Employers must be vigilant in identifying and mitigating these hazards,” said OSHA Savannah Area Office Director Margo Westmoreland. “Training employees to recognize and control hazards can minimize serious and fatal injuries. OSHA encourages employers to contact the agency for compliance assistance with trenching and excavation requirements.”

OSHA’s trenching and excavation webpage provide additional information and resources on hazards and solutions, including a trenching operations QuickCard and a “Protect Workers in Trenches” poster.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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.

You can read the citation and letter here.

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