trenchAn Auburn, Ala.-based contractor exposed workers to dangerous cave-in hazards and failed to use safety measures to prevent excavation collapse, OSHA inspectors found, during an investigation conducted as part of the agency’s National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation.

Among other safety violations, D&J Enterprises Inc. was cited for allowing employees to work in an excavation without cave-in protection. OSHA requires that all trenches and excavation sites 5 feet or deeper be protected against sidewall collapses by shoring of trench walls, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle, or by using a protective trench box.

"D&J Enterprises' management recognized that there was a possible cave-in hazard and had the means to correct the hazard, yet opted to provide no protection for employees in the excavation," said Joseph Roesler, OSHA's area director in Mobile. "There is no excuse for an employer to put their employees in unprotected trenches and excavations. The technology and training have been available for employers for decades."

Proposed penalties are $55,000.

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