OSHA is citing McLendon Enterprises Inc. of Vidalia, Ga., with six workplace safety violations and proposing $124,250 in penalties, according to an agency press statement.

The citations come after an OSHA compliance officer observed company employees working in a trench without cave-in protection at a jobsite in Hinesville, Ga., last September.

OSHA is proposing three willful violations against the company, carrying proposed penalties of $38,500 each, for allowing workers inside an 11-foot-deep trench without safe egress and without cave-in protection. While in the trench, workers were exposed to being struck or engulfed by soil placed too close to the trench and by an excavator that was operating too close to the edge of the trench. The agency defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

Three serious safety violations with combined proposed fines of $8,750 are for the company's failure to train a non-English speaking employee in trenching hazards, allowing employees to work in a trench without head protection and allowing an employee to use a cutoff saw without wearing eye protection. A serious citation is issued when there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Excavation is recognized as one of the most hazardous construction operations," said John J. Deifer, OSHA's area director in Savannah, Ga. "The significant fines proposed here reflect the fact that this company knew the OSHA rules yet chose not to follow them. It is fortunate in this case that no one was injured."

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Savannah or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The site was inspected by staff from OSHA's Savannah Area Office, 450 Mall Blvd., Suite J; telephone 912-652-4393.