trenchOSHA has cited an Illinois sewer and water contractor for one willful and two serious safety violations after two employees were observed working in a 25 foot-deep trench without adequate cave-in protection while installing storm sewers.

Working under a municipal contract

DiMeo Brothers, headquartered in Elk Grove Village, faces proposed penalties of $44,660. The company was awarded a contract from the Village of Glenview to construct the Navy By-Pass Storm Sewer Project and an easement to alleviate flooding in the village.

"Trench collapses can occur suddenly, and it is only a matter of minutes before a worker becomes trapped. DiMeo Brothers failed to meet their responsibility to adequately protect employees working in trenches," said Angeline Loftus, OSHA's area director for Chicago North. "Violations of trenching standards result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year, and no employee should become a statistic."

OSHA initiated the inspection under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation, which was implemented in the 1980s.

What the standard requires

One willful violation was cited for failing to ensure workers were adequately protected from cave-in hazards while working in a trench approximately 25 feet in depth. Cave-in protection was placed about 8 feet off the bottom of the trench, which was not an adequate depth to protect the workers. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available from OSHA.

The investigation also found that the company failed to provide life jackets to employees working over water and fall protection for use when working around the deep trench, resulting in the issuance of two serious violations.

DiMeo Brothers was previously cited by OSHA in 2010 and 2013.