OSHA has cited an Illinois contractor for seven safety violations, including three willful, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins and moving soil and chunks of asphalt during trenching operations. The inspection was initiated under OSHA's national emphasis program for trenching and excavation after an OSHA inspector witnessed apparent cave-in hazards while traveling past a construction site in Des Plaines on Oct. 3, 2012. Proposed penalties total $110,440.
Because of the hazards and the violations cited, the company has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
"This is not the first time this contractor has exposed vulnerable workers to dangerous excavation hazards," said Nick Walters, OSHA's regional administrator in Chicago. "These types of hazards result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year."
No cave-in protection
The three willful violations involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing protective metal sleeves around an existing water main in a trench approximately 7 feet deep, and at a later date during an extension of another trench approximately 6 feet deep. The company failed to ensure that excavated materials that posed a hazard of falling or rolling into the trench were placed at least 2 feet back from the trench edge.
"Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor has again failed to take adequate safety measures to protect workers from cave-ins at excavation sites despite being previously cited for these industry specific standards," said Diane Turek, OSHA's area director for its Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines. "OSHA implemented a trenching and excavation special emphasis program in the 1980s, so the industry, including Neri, who has been in this business for decades, should be well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations and the potential hazards to workers."
OSHA cited three repeat violations for failing to establish a safety and health program, provide training to workers on trenching and excavation hazards and ensure that each worker exposed to struck-by hazards was protected by a helmet. Similar violations were cited at a job site in Montgomery in 2009.
Water accumulation a danger
One serious violation was cited for failing to protect workers in a trench from water accumulation.
Because of the hazards and the violations cited, Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor has been placed in OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program, which mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Previous trenching hazards cited
Prior to this inspection, Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor had been inspected by OSHA three times in the past five years and had been issued serious, repeat and willful citations related to various trenching hazards.
The current citations can be viewed at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/MikeNeriSewerandWaterContractor_666698_0402_13.pdf.*