Occupational Safety & Health Administration

Construction Company Facing Fines After Employees Found Working in Unstable Trench

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited D'Ambra Construction Company Inc. for a willful violation of workplace safety standards involving workers at a Newport site who were found installing pipes in an unstable trench 6 to 7 feet deep. The company faces a $56,000 proposed fine following a May 21 inspection.

Safety Video: Excavations in Construction/Trenching

OSHA inspectors were initially traveling to another scheduled inspection when they drove by the trench worksite located at Broadway and Malbone Road. They found no trench box in use and noticed that the traffic along the road caused loose debris to fall from the trench's wall.

OSHA Trench Safety QuickCard

A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law's requirements or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA Publishes Educational Materials On Working Safely During Trenching Operations

"The walls of a trench or an excavation can collapse suddenly and without warning, burying workers in soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Patrick Griffin, OSHA's Rhode Island area director. "The fact that no collapse occurred does not minimize the gravity of this hazard, nor does it relieve the company of its responsibility to ensure trenches and excavations are safe for workers to enter."

Trenching and Excavation Safety Fact Sheet

OSHA standards require that excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. For more information about excavation safeguards, visit http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings 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) or the agency's Providence office at 401-528-4667.