R.S. Audley Inc., a contractor in Bow, N.H., faces a total of $50,000 in proposed fines for alleged cave-in hazards at worksites in North Conway and Pembroke, and Powershot Utility Construction Services LLC of Nashua faces $64,700 in proposed for alleged cave-in hazards at a North Conway worksite, OSHA announced this week.

R.S. Audley was cited for a total of seven alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards following OSHA inspections conducted in July and September. Both investigations were opened when OSHA inspectors passing by the worksites observed employees working in unprotected trenches from 5.8 to 9.9 feet in depth.

As a result, OSHA issued two repeat citations, carrying $38,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of cave-in protection at each worksite. The citations were classified as repeat because OSHA had cited R.S. Audley in August 2005 and September 2003 for similar hazards at worksites in Swanzey and Bedford.

Powershot was cited for four alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards following a September inspection at a water main installation site on the White Mountain Highway.

OSHA's inspection found employees working in a nine-foot-deep trench that lacked protection against a collapse of its sidewalls. This resulted in one willful citation, carrying $56,000 in proposed fines.

"A cave-in can crush and bury workers within seconds, leaving them no chance to escape," said Rosemarie Ohar, OSHA's area director for New Hampshire. "The hazard is so severe that OSHA inspectors will stop and open an inspection on the spot any time they observe employees working in unprotected trenches."