2 Denver Companies Slapped with Fines for Willful Trenching Violations

OSHA's Area Office in Englewood, Colo., has cited two Denver-based companies, Brannan Construction Co. and Fiore & Sons Inc., with penalties of $75,000 and $67,000 respectively, for violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act related to unsafe working conditions in trenches.

The agency's investigation disclosed one alleged willful violation and one alleged serious violation at Brannan Construction following an inspection at a worksite in Centennial, Colo. The investigation of Fiore & Sons also found one alleged willful violation and one alleged serious violation related to an unsafe trench at a Parker, Colo., worksite.

"Different companies. Different worksites. Similar issues. Trench work can be extremely dangerous," said Greg Baxter, OSHA's regional administrator in Denver. "Companies need to take the necessary steps to address hazards ahead of time and to educate employees on safe trench operations."

For both companies, the alleged willful violations stem from a lack of protective systems required for trench operations. OSHA issues a willful citation when an employer exhibits plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The alleged serious violation against Brannan relates to work materials being too close to the edge of the trench. For Fiore, the alleged serious violation relates to the company failing to conduct a proper trench inspection. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which an employer knew or should have known.

Both companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director in Englewood, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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