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Lack of Trench Cave-in Protection for Workers leads to $60,000 Fine for Chicago Contractor

cave-in protectionOSHA has recently cited Doherty, Giannini & Rietz, an underground construction contractor with one willful violation and one repeat citation for failing to protect workers with cave-in equipment during trenching operations in Chicago. The company faces fines of up to $60,000.

Reports have shown that cave-ins are one of the major causes for worker fatalities and accidents in excavation projects. In the past few months, this is probably the 4th case wherein OSHA has had to issue citations to this same contractor for violating the cave-in protection standard. Worker safety should be the most important issue on any job site, and OSHA aims to ensure that employers protect their workers.

The willful citation came about because it was found that the company’s employees were working in trenches that were as deep as 6 feet but were not given any cave-in protection. A trench box was found on the site but was not installed within the trench. A willful violation is given out if an employer demonstrates or intentionally disregards the requirements of the law or shows indifference to employees’ safety and health.

The company also received a repeat citation for failing to implement a safe work zone. A repeat citation is generally issued when an employer was previously cited for the same violation.

Since 1988, the company has been inspected by OSHA 27 times, and this has resulted in the company receiving at least 16 prior citations for lack of proper cave-in protection.