August 15, 2023
Settlement upholds citations against former New York contractor who willfully exposed employees to dangers that led to fatal 2018 Brooklyn trench collapse
WSC Group must pay $50K in penalties; owner affirms he will no longer do construction work
Date of action: July 21, 2023
Type of action: Stipulated settlement agreement
Name of defendant: WSC Group LLC
134 12th St.
Brooklyn, New York
Background: In March 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found WSC Group LLC willfully failed to provide an adequate protective system for employees working in a trench, and exposed them to other serious excavation hazards, that contributed to the death of a WSC employee in a September 2018 trench collapse in Brooklyn. The company contested OSHA's citations before the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The commission case was paused while the Kings County District Attorney’s office pursued a criminal case that led to the conviction of WSC company owner Jiaxi "Jimmy" Liu for criminally negligent homicide and other charges in March 2023.
Resolution: An administrative law judge has issued an order concluding the commission case, following the execution of a civil settlement between the department and WSC Group LLC that upholds the citations and requires the company to pay $50,000 in penalties for the violations. In the settlement, the employer states it has ceased operations and will not perform any future construction work and that Liu will not own, operate, supervise or manage any company performing construction work. The judge's order terminating the case was sent to the commission on July 21, 2023, and will become a final order on Aug. 21, 2023, unless a commission member directs review of the decision on or before that date.
Court: U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission
Docket Number: No. 19-0475
Quotes: "This settlement affirms OSHA's citations, which found that this employer knowingly failed to construct the trench protection system properly and did not use other safeguards that would have prevented a worker’s death in a cave-in. It also confirms that neither WSC Group LLC nor its owner will ever engage in construction work again," said OSHA Regional Administrator Richard Mendelson in New York.
"The outcome in this investigation should remind all employers that the U.S. Department of Labor will pursue all available legal remedies and work cooperatively with other agencies to enforce laws designed to protect workers," said Regional Solicitor of Labor Jeffrey S. Rogoff in New York.
Release Number: 23-1657-NEW