trenchA Deleware construction company got its day in court, and was ordered by an administrative law judge to pay penalties assessed by OSHA for  trenching violations.

Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission judge Dennis L. Phillips ruled that Newport-based Daily Construction willfully violated OSHA's trenching standards and must pay $59,000 in penalties. The company had contested the citations, and the case was litigated before the commission.

Phillips' decision resolves litigation that followed citations issued by OSHA based on a 2010 investigation. Two willful violations were failing to provide employees working in a trench with an adequate protection system to prevent cave-ins and protect employees by removing them from the unprotected trench. One serious violation was failing to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions.

The decision upholds the willful and serious classifications of the violations, and it could become a final order of the commission on or about Feb. 21 unless the case is directed for review by the commission.

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. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's website at