OSHA Cites Illinois Contractor Twice for Trench Hazards at Same Jobsite

Neri Sewer & Water Contractor Inc. facing $150,150 in proposed penalties from OSHA for failure to protect workers from trench cave-ins

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The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) again cited Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor Inc. for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at a commercial jobsite in Des Plaines, Ill. OSHA initiated the inspection after an inspector witnessed cave-in hazards while traveling past the construction site on July 24, 2013.

OSHA cited the company in April 2013 for the same hazards at this commercial construction site under OSHA's national emphasis program for trenching and excavation. After those citations, the company was placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. In this case, OSHA has proposed additional penalties of $150,150 for the company. The company has not responded to OSHA since the issuance of those citations.

Two willful violations were cited for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing a concrete manhole structure in a trench approximately 8-feet deep. The company also failed to ensure that excavated materials that posed a hazard by falling or rolling into the trench-were placed at least two feet back from the trench edge. 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 cited two repeat violations for failing to provide training to workers on trenching and excavation hazards and ensuring that each worker exposed to struck-by hazards was protected by a helmet. 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. Similar violations were cited at the same jobsite in April 2013.

OSHA's Severe Violator Enforcement Program mandates targeted follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law and focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites.

The company was cited for three willful and two repeat violations because of an inspection initiated in October 2012 at the same jobsite. Proposed penalties totaling $110,440 were issued April 2013 .

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five 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.

In addition to the inspection conducted in October 2012, Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor has been inspected by OSHA three other times in the past five years, resulting in serious, repeat and willful citations related to trenching hazards.

The current citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/mike_neri_sewer_water_contractor_922610_0121_14.pdf* http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/mike_neri_sewer_water_contractor_666698_0402_13.pdf*

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.