Judge Orders Construction Firm to Pay $59,000 for Trenching Violations

Two willful violations were issued for failing to provide employees working in a trench with an adequate protection system to prevent cave-ins and protect employees by removing them from the unprotected trench.

An administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has found that Newport, Del.-based Daisy Construction willfully violated OSHA’s trenching standards and ordered the company to pay $59,000 in penalties.

Dennis L. Phillips' decision resolves litigation that followed citations issued by OSHA based on a 2010 investigation. Two willful violations were failing to provide employees working in a trench with an adequate protection system to prevent cave-ins and protect employees by removing them from the unprotected trench. One serious violation was failing to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. The company contested the citations, and the case was litigated before the commission.

The decision upholds the willful and serious classifications of the violations and it could become a final order of the commission on or about Feb. 13 unless a petition for appeal is filed.

"This decision is a victory for excavation workers who regularly face dangerous trenching conditions, and underscores the Labor Department's commitment to pursue workplace safety and health violators to the full extent of the law," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Philadelphia. "Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that proper precautions are taken to prevent cave-ins."

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