Illinois Contractor Named Severe Violator for Repeat Trenching Hazards

September 20, 2013

OSHA has cited Cross Construction Inc. of Urbana, Ill., for three safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations while installing sewer pipes in Danville. Two of the violations are repeat. Penalties total $75,460.

"Cave-ins are the leading cause of injury and death in excavation," said Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "Repeat violations of a well-known safety hazard in the trenching industry demonstrate a disregard for workers' safety by Cross Construction."

Two repeat violations were cited for failing to provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work and to conduct daily inspections of the excavation site to identify and correct hazards. OSHA issues repeat violations if an employer previously was cited for the same or a similar violation of any standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violation was cited December 2012 at a job site in Mahomet.

One willful violation was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in a trench greater than 7 feet deep. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse.

As a result of exposing workers to cave-in hazards, OSHA has placed Cross Construction in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. The program focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.