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Ohio construction firm fined $135,800 for cave-in hazards (10/4)

October 4, 2010

OSHA has issued Gleason Construction Co. Inc. in Holland, Ohio, six citations for exposing workers to trench cave-ins hazards at two different excavation worksites, according to an agency press release. The citations carry total penalties of $135,800.

OSHA initiated two separate inspections, one in April and one in May, as part of OSHA's National Trenching and Excavation Emphasis Program. The agency cited Gleason Construction Co. Inc. with three alleged willful violations carrying proposed fines of $119,000 for failing to properly install cave-in protection shields according to the manufacturer's specifications and recommendations; provide employees with safe egress while entering and exiting a trench; and ensure not more than 2 feet of material was excavated below a protective shield system. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker injuries and fatalities during excavations," said Jule Hove, OSHA's area director in Toledo. "This company is well aware of the risks and OSHA's safety requirements, but chose to ignore them."

Additionally, the company was cited for two serious citations with proposed penalties of $8,400 for failing to prevent falling and rolling debris from striking employees working in a trench, and to ensure workers are protected against cave-ins while entering and exiting trenches. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists. The company also received one repeat serious violation with proposed penalties of $8,400 for failure to ensure safe egress from the trench.

Since 1986, Gleason Construction has been inspected on 26 other occasions. The previous inspections resulted in 17 serious, one willful and eight other-than-serious citations, which included violations for cave-in protection, ladders, failing to follow manufacturer's recommendations, competent person deficiencies, falling loads and material, vehicular traffic issues and defective rigging.