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Pipeline contractor fined over lack of cave-in protections


A Pennsylvania utility and pipeline construction firm is facing proposed penalties totaling $57,750 for exposing its employees to cave-in hazards while they were working in a trench.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations for one willful, one repeat and one serious violation last week against Wayne, Pennsylvania-based Anrich Inc., which was contracted by the West Branch Regional Authority in Muncy, Pennsylvania for its 2013 sewer replacement project, according to a news release issued by the agency on Thursday.

OSHA inspectors initiated an investigation in June in response to a complaint alleging employees were working in a trench without cave-in protection, according to the release.

On the day of the inspection, OSHA found Anrich employees working in an unprotected excavation about 14 feet long, 10 feet wide and more than 7 feet deep without cave-in protection — a willful violation of safety and health rules — and with no safe means of exit, resulting in the repeat violation, according to the citations. In addition, rainwater was observed accumulating in the excavation and flowing from an existing pipeline, which led to the serious citation, according to OSHA.

“Without the proper precautions to prevent cave-ins or safe means of exit, a trench can easily become a grave,” Mark Stelmack, director of OSHA's Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania office, said in the statement. “Employers are responsible for ensuring that effective safety measures are in place and in use before their workers enter a trench.”

Anrich's workers' compensation insurer is Amerisafe Insurance Inc. in DeRidder, Louisiana, according to the release. The construction firm and the insurer could not be immediately reached for comment.

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