A federal court has ordered that Mike Neri Sewer and Water Contractor of Elk Grove Village, Ill., no longer engage in trenching, excavation, construction or related work after repeatedly exposing employees to trenching hazards, the U.S. Department of Labor announced. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit issued the order, which also permits the secretary to pursue a collection action against Mr. Neri to recover the $110,440 in penalties.
"The court has sent a clear message that Mike Neri, like all businesses, has a legal and moral responsibility to protect workers on the job," said Nick Walters, regional administrator for OSHA in Chicago. "OSHA will pursue all avenues to ensure employers, such as Neri, who are recalcitrant and continue to violate safety standards, learn that the law will be upheld."
The department pursued coercive sanctions through the courts out of concern that Neri continued to violate OSHA trenching standards. After failing to comply with the court enforcement order, Neri was held in federal jail for 23 days in December 2014. He was released on December 24, 2014, after posting a $10,000 recognizance bond. The court order and agreement vacates this bond.
The April 2013 penalties were issued by OSHA for exposing workers to trenching hazards on a job site in Des Plaines on October 3 and October 11, 2012. OSHA also cited the company for trenching hazards in 2009 and 2011.
During the inspections, Neri was uncooperative with inspectors and refused to acknowledge trenching violations had occurred, even when shown photographic evidence to the contrary. Neri has not paid the penalties assessed by OSHA in any of the inspections.