The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Fischer Excavating Inc. for four safety violations, including one willful, for exposing workers to trenching hazards at a work site in Rockford. Proposed penalties total $58,100. OSHA initiated the November 2013 inspection under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation.
"Trenching hazards result in numerous fatalities and injuries every year," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in North Aurora. "OSHA implemented a trenching and excavation special emphasis program in the 1980s. Companies like Fisher Excavating should be well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations and the potentially catastrophic hazards for workers."
One willful violation was cited for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing a sewer line in a trench approximately 11 feet deep. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement, or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. In 2013, trenching hazards resulted in 30 deaths nationwide.
Three serious violations were issued for failing to have a ladder extend 3 feet above the landing area to provide an exit for workers in a trench, failing to support a section of curb to prevent collapse into the trench and for failing to require workers to wear high-visibility vests near traffic. 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.
Fischer Excavating, in Freeport, employs about 30 workers. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference 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 North Aurora Area Office at 630-896-8700.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.