Acting on a complaint in June 2016, OSHA found employees of one of the Verona, New Jersey area's largest general contractors working in an unprotected 10-foot deep excavation at a suburban New Jersey high school, in violation of federal safety and health laws. OSHA announced today it has issued citations for nine violations - one willful and eight serious - to The Landtek Group Inc., a New York-based general contractor that specializes in sports facility design and construction. The company faces $197,752 in fines as a result.

A 10' deep unprotected trench

The citations - issued on Dec. 20, 2016 - follow an OSHA inspection at Verona High School in Verona on June 22, 2016, where the agency found that Landtek allowed its workers to enter and work in an unprotected, 10-foot deep excavation that had no protective systems in place, as required. Landtek is the general contractor for site improvements at Verona High School, including the construction of new tennis courts and synthetic turf fields.

"Without needed protections in place, an excavation can quickly become a grave as thousands of pounds of soil collapse upon workers below ground. The Landtek Group must re-examine its safety procedures and take all available precautions - including installing shoring or other means - to prevent unexpected movement or collapses of the soil that can lead to disaster," said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA's Parsippany Area Office.

The violations

The contractor was cited with a willful violation for exposing workers to cave-in hazards because the excavation lacked proper cave-in protection or safeguards.

OSHA cited serious violations related to Landtek's failure to prevent employee exposures to fall, atmospheric and explosion hazards. The company also failed to:

  • Have a competent person inspect the excavation.
  • Have a written permit space program.
  • Train employees on safely performing their job duties and the hazards associated with them.
  • Coordinate rescue and emergency services for workers entering a sewer manhole.
  • Provide mechanical retrieval equipment in case of an emergency.

The citations can be viewed at

The employer 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.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. The trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of trench.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Parsippany office at 973-263-1003.