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Road work contractor faces fines
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The contractor for the construction on Memorial Drive has been fined $124,250 by the federal Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for safety violations.
McLendon Enterprises, Inc. was fined March 20 for failure to enforce protection measures that put workers in danger back in September, according to the OSHA spokesperson Michael Wald.
Employees were allegedly allowed in an 11-foot trench without proper headgear and without a safe way out in case of cave-in.
Other citations included a worker operating a cutoff saw without eye protection and failure to train a non-English employee on safety hazards.
OSHA determined the violations by the Vidalia-based contractor to be deliberate, which contributed to the hefty fines.
“When we talked to the supervisor on site, the supervisor obviously knew the OSHA standards and that made it willful,” Wald said.
A call Tuesday to McClendon’s Vidalia office was not returned by our press time.
Wald said OSHA did not originally intend to inspect the Memorial Drive project, but a compliance officer happened by and saw workers in unsafe conditions.
The contractor was made aware of the hazards at the time of the violation.
“Not only did they let them know, they didn’t let them continue,” Wald said. “They [OSHA compliance officers] have a right when they see something unsafe to immediately stop work.”
The all-inclusive cost for the first two phases of the Memorial Drive project is $3.9 million and McLendon was contracted for $2.9 million.
Hinesville City Manager Billy Edwards said the city was not aware of the OSHA citations and explained contractors must supply references in order to bid on projects.
“And they checked out fine,” he said of McLendon.
McLendon also won the bid on an ongoing county project on Islands Drive, scheduled to be complete by May 29.
The roughly $450,000 project on the Isle of Wight residential road includes paving, drainage and installing curb and gutter. So far the county has paid out just under $40,000 for the work.
Lamar Tillman, project manager for the county’s special purpose local option sales tax fund who also serves as primary inspector, explained projects usually go to the lowest bidder.
He was not aware of McLendon’s OSHA violations and said contractors are obligated to make sure workers are safe.
But even if the county had prior knowledge, “that would not cause them not to get the project,” Tillman said.
His inspection includes general questioning and checks into the company’s background.
“[We] make sure they install drainage correctly [and] make sure erosion control is properly put up,” Tillman said. “We don’t just look for one thing. We look at a variety of different things that affect the project.”
Tillman said unless violations are serious and work is substandard, contracts are not usually affected.
He does not recall having a similar situation in the past.
“If they don’t do a good job that would cause us to monitor what they’re doing pretty closely,” Tillman said.
McLendon has 15 business days to pay or dispute the citations.
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