An Arlington construction firm has been fined $10,200 by the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for proposed willful safety violations that OSHA officials say allegedly resulted in the death of a 24-year-old construction worker Aug. 22.
Carl Thomas Noll of Arlington, an employe of Dittmar Co., was working in a sewer ditch that collapsed, burying him. Noll, who was alone in the ditch at the time of the accident, was dug out by a co-worker and pronounced dead on arrival a short time later at Arlington Hospital.
OSHA area director Warren Wright, in Richmond, said that he issued the maximu $10,200 citation agianst Dittmar Co., owned by Thomas J. Offutt Sr., who also owns several Arlington apartment complexes.
According to the citation, Dittmar officials "did not instruct each employe in the recognition and avoidance of unsafe conditions and the regulations applicable to his work environment to control or eliminate any hazard or other exposure to illness or injury."
Also, according to the citation, "The sides of the trenches in unstable or soft material which were more than five feet deep were not shored, sheeted, braced or sloped or otherwise supported in accordance (with federal safety regulations)."
In addition, Wright said, Dittmar officials had not posted a notice advising employes of their right to report unsafe conditions to OSHA. Wright levied a $200 fine for this violation.
Offutt, who did not return a reporter's phone calls, has notified OSHA that he plans to contest the proposed fine. A hearing will be scheduled before an administrative law judge in Washington.
According to Wright, only five citations for willful negligence were issued last year in Virginia.
"(Offutt) should have been familiar with construction standards, seeing that he's been cited before," Wright said.
In 1973, Dittmar was fined $650 in connection with the electrocution of a 21-year-old construction worker and the serious injury of a foreman.
Wright said Dittmar was fined for permitting employes to operate a crane without a 10-foot minimum clearance from live electrical wires.
Dittmar employs more than 99 persons, according to OSHA records.