Contractor Cited 3 Times in 4 Years for Trench Violations, Faces $120K Penalty

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An Illinois excavation contractor faces $118,962 in proposed OSHA penalties for repeat trench violations.
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An Illinois contractor faces its third trench violation in four years and a proposed penalty of nearly $120,000, according to the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

A. Lamp Concrete Contractors Inc. of Schaumburg was cited after an OSHA inspector saw two workers June 30 in a 7-foot-deep trench with inadequate cave-in protection nor a safe way to get in and out of the trench. The workers were on a municipal water and sewer project in Broadview.

The same company had been cited after investigations in 2018 and 2021 for exposing workers to possible cave-ins, according to OSHA. For the June inspection, the company was issued three repeat serious violations, as well as one serious and one other-than-serious violations.

A serious violation exists when a hazard could cause accident or illness that would most likely result in death or serious physical harm, unless the employer did not know or could not have known of the violation, according to OSHA. An other-than-serious violation has a direct relationship to job safety and health but is not serious in nature.

Repeat violations

One of the repeat violations was for not having adequate cave-in protection. The company had also been cited for this violation in 2018 for which it paid a $20,000 fine. In July 2021, it was investigated for a similar violation, which resulted in the company paying a $14,502 fine.

The other two repeat violations stemmed from the 2018 case. They were for workers being exposed to struck-by hazards because shields were not installed in a way to restrict hazardous movements, and for workers not being protected from cave-in when entering and exiting areas protected by shields.

On the June 30 inspection, workers did not have a safe way to enter or exit the trench, resulting in a serious violation, according to OSHA. The other-than-serious violation was for a trench box used by employees that was not built to manufacturer’s specifications.

In all, the proposed penalties for the new and repeat violations from the June 30 inspection total $118,962.

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"In mere seconds, thousands of pounds of soil can trap a worker in a trench collapse and lead to serious and often fatal injuries," says OSHA Chicago North Area Director Angeline Loftus. "Our inspector found that a company foreman was supervising the work of two employees in the unprotected trench, which demonstrates the company's lack of concern for federal regulations, industry-recognized best practices and its legal responsibility to protect workers on the job."

OSHA stock graphic with tips on protecting workers in trenchesA quick reminder from OSHA on how to protect workers in trenches.OSHA