An Ohio construction firm faces a proposed fine of $510,750 after OSHA inspections along a 150-mile petroleum pipeline in Ohio found inadequate cave-in protection inside trenches.

H.L. Crouse Construction, a pipeline contractor based in Walbridge, Ohio, was cited for 14 alleged safety and health violations, including eight willful violations for failure to protect employees from cave-ins at six separate trenches, allowing water accumulation in trenches, and placing excavated soil close to unprotected trench walls.

"These workers were placed at significant risk when their employer repeatedly failed to take basic precautions against a trench collapse," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The $510,750 penalty should send a strong signal this blatant disregard for worker safety will not be tolerated."

"What's most troubling about this case," added OSHA chief John Henshaw, "is that the company had already been warned on-site about the hazards, yet did nothing about it. Given the conditions observed by OSHA compliance officers, it's fortunate that workers had not been injured."