The city of Medford was cited this week for three serious Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, all related to the same incident. The city was issued a $7,500 fine.

The city of Medford was cited this week for three serious Occupational Safety and Health Administration violations, all related to the same incident. The city was issued a $7,500 fine.

An OSHA inspector discovered a public works employee working in a trench for a storm drain nearly 6 feet deep without proper trench-wall bracing on April 11 at the corner of Edwards Street and Riverside Avenue.

An employee was setting a laser target in a 5-foot 10-inch deep trench and was not protected from the possibility it could cave in, according to the OSHA report. Water was seeping from the wall and sloughing had occurred, it said.

Kevin Weeks, public information officer for Oregon OSHA, said trenches more than 4 feet deep require shoring up.

He said people often don't realize how heavy soil is when they're digging holes or trenches.

"When they do cave in, they are frequently deadly," he said.

Public Works Director Cory Crebbin said the citation was justified.

"This is not what we consider a 'cost of doing business' or a minor thing," he said. "I think it's completely unacceptable."

He said the department apparently needs to emphasize safety more, and will do that.

Weeks said he researched five years of records and found no other Medford Public Works Department violations.

Another recent OSHA investigation also resulted in a citation, this one in Talent.

Ross Bros. & Company Inc. was cited for a serious OSHA violation when a bridge-work crane fell into Bear Creek in August. A three-month OSHA investigation determined the Ross Bros. worksite did not comply with the manufacturer's operating manual for the crane and issued a $2,500 fine in December.

The accident dumped only small amounts of pollutants into the waterway and did not delay construction of Jackson County's West Valley View Road bridge project. The temporary platform beneath the crane collapsed and the crane operator jumped from the crane and suffered a fractured collarbone.

Reach reporter Meg Landers at 776-4481 or e-mail mlanders@mailtribune.com.