Safety and OSHA News

Business owner taken into custody for not paying OSHA fines

What happens when a company doesn’t correct workplace hazards and fails to pay OSHA fines? The owner of a contracting company in Illinois now knows the answer to that question. 

A U.S. Marshall has taken the owner of Mike Neri Sewer & Water Contractor into custody after the company failed to correct serious trenching hazards and pay OSHA fines.

Neri will remain in custody until a judge certifies he has either fully complied with a court order or has demonstrated he is unable to comply.

The Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals granted a motion filed by the Department of Labor (OSHA’s parent department) against Neri’s company which is based in Elk Grove Village, IL.

OSHA says Neri has a long history of failing to comply with safety standards, including orders from the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

The Seventh Circuit issued an enforcement order against Neri in October 2013 when he failed to comply and then held him in contempt in July 2014 and theatened him with imprisonment.

Neri never responded to the court which then granted DOL’s motion.

Recent fines total more than $260K

In January, OSHA cited Neri for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching at a work site in Des Plaines, IL.

OSHA had cited Neri in April 2013 for the same hazards at the same commercial construction site.

The fines for the citations issued in January total $150,150. The citations include:

  • two willful violations for failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing a concrete manhole structure in a trench approximately eight-feet deep
  • a repeat violation for failing to provide training to workers on trenching and excavation hazards
  • a repeat violation for failing to ensure each worker exposed to struck-by hazards was protected by a helmet.

The fines OSHA issued in April 2013 totaled $110,440.

OSHA placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program which mandates follow-up inspections to ensure compliance with the law. Under the program, OSHA can inspect any of the employer’s facilities or job sites.

Regulations require all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse.

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