Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Illinois Contractor Cited for Trench Safety Violations

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Joel Kennedy Constructing Corp. in Waukegan, Ill., for five safety violations, including one willful, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins 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 at a construction site in Chicago on November 5, 2012. Proposed penalties total $72,380.

Trenching and Excavation Safety Fact Sheet

OSHA Trench Safety QuickCard

The willful violation involves failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing a valve vault for a water main in a trench approximately 8 feet deep. 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. The company has been cited previously for failing to provide cave-in protection in May 2009 and March 2011.

Safety Video: Excavations in Construction/Trenching

Additionally, three serious violations were cited for failing to provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work, keep excavated material away from the edge of the trench and have a guard on a hand grinder. 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.

One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to provide a ground fault circuit interrupter on a portable generator used on the site. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

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.

OSHA Publishes Educational Materials On Working Safely During Trenching Operations

Joel Kennedy Constructing Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).