Occupational Safety & Health Administration

OSHA Inspector Observes Workers in Unprotected Trench, Contractor Fined

Reliable Contracting and Equipment Co. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for three safety violations, including one repeat, for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. OSHA initiated its inspection of the Chicago jobsite on May 16 under the national emphasis program on trenching and excavations after an agency inspector observed workers in an unprotected trench. Proposed penalties total $48,510.

OSHA Publishes Educational Materials On Working Safely During Trenching Operations


One repeat violation was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers in a trench more than 5 feet deep. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. The same violation was cited in July 2012 at a jobsite in Chicago.

Trenching and Excavation Safety Fact Sheet

Two serious violations were cited for failing to provide a means of safe access and egress during trenching and excavation work and to conduct daily inspections of the excavation site to identify and correct hazards. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

Safety Video: Excavations in Construction/Trenching

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.

Reliable Contracting and Equipment Co. has been inspected by OSHA 10 times in the last five years; seven of those inspections resulted in citations for violations of excavation standards.

OSHA Trench Safety QuickCard

The company 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) or the agency's Calumet City office at 708-891-3800.

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