Safety and OSHA News

Contractor ignores OSHA, continues work despite hazard: $275K fine

After being told by an investigator to protect workers against trench cave-in hazards, this contractor returned to work the next day and exposed the same crew to the same risk. 

OSHA has fined Og Plumbing LLC $275,728 for violations at two locations in Oak Park, IL. Og faces one willful, three repeat and one serious safety citations. OSHA has also placed the company in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer’s facilities or job sites if it has reasonable grounds to believe there are similar violations.

On March 28, 2016, a four-man crew was working in a five-and-a-half foot deep trench without cave-in protection and a means to enter and exit the trench. Inspectors said workers also weren’t wearing hard hats.

The following day, inspectors found the same crew working in a six-and-one-half foot deep trench at another location without cave-in protection and a means to enter and exit the trench.

After the investigator left the second site, employees were seen re-entering the unprotected trench. As the investigator approached the trench a second time, the employees scrambled out. Some time later, a large section of the trench wall collapsed in the area where the employees had been working.

On top of this, OSHA had already fined Og for an inspection that occurred three weeks earlier. On March 10, 2016, inspectors observed a crew installing water lines in a trench about six-feet deep in Chicago without cave-in protection. OSHA issued $69,300 in fines for one willful and one repeat violation. The company now faces a total of $345,000 in OSHA fines.

OSHA’s trenching standard requires protective systems for trenches deeper than 5 feet, and that soil and other materials remain at least two feet from a trench edge.

Og has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA or appeal them to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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