Occupational Safety & Health Administration

OSHA Cites Duce Construction for Failing to Protect Employees from Trench Dangers

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Duce Construction Co. with four safety violations, including three serious and one willful, for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards at a job site on East Airport Road in Savoy, IL. OSHA opened the February 2014 inspection under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation. Proposed penalties total $59,500.

"It is unacceptable for Duce Construction to allow workers into an unprotected trench. Each year, trench collapses result in numerous deaths and serious injuries," said Thomas Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria. "Employers that specialize in this type of work must take all necessary precautions to ensure their employees have safe working conditions."

There were two trench boxes used in the excavation. Workers were exposed to soil avalanching and cave-in hazards because the company failed to ensure that the boxes were used correctly. A willful violation was cited for failing to ensure workers were protected from these hazards. 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.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available.

Three serious violations were issued for storing piles of soil within 2 feet of the edge of the excavation; failing to provide a means of exit or escape, such as a ladder, from the trench; and exposing workers to vehicular traffic without warning vests or other garments to alert drivers to their presence. 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.

Duce Construction Co., based in Champaign, IL, was previously inspected by OSHA in 2006 and 2008 and cited for trenching violations.

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 Peoria Area Office at 309-589-7033.

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/.

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