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Sept. 28, 2015

Fond du Lac, Wisconsin, excavation company
exposes workers to trench cave-in hazards
OSHA cites L&H Gyr Excavating Inc. for 4 violations, more than $113K in proposed fines

FOND DU LAC, Wis. - A cubic foot of soil can weigh more than 100 pounds, and workers caught beneath a few feet of soil can be seriously - or fatally - injured. A 19-year-old pipe layer in a Van Dyne farm field was exposed to dangerous cave-in hazards while installing a drain tile in an unprotected trench more than 5 feet deep.

U.S. Department of Labor Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found that Fond du Lac employer L&H Gyr Excavating Inc. failed to provide cave-in protection or a safe means of egress from the trench, which exposed the worker to thousands of pounds of soil, if trench walls collapsed.

The company received for two willful and two repeated OSHA safety violations on Sept. 28. Proposed penalties total $113,960.

The agency also noted that a site supervisor failed to remove the worker from the trench, even after recognizing that safety procedures had not been followed.

"An unprotected trench can bury a worker in seconds and cause severe or fatal injuries," said Robert Bonack, OSHA's area director in Appleton. "Excavation company L&H Gyr knows that every trench deeper than 5 feet must have cave-in protection."

In 2011, the agency cited the company for failing to train workers to recognize unprotected trench hazards and remove employees from hazardous situations.

View current citations here*.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Appleton Area Office at 920-734-4521.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit

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Media Contacts:

Scott Allen, 312-353-6976,
Rhonda Burke, 312-353-6976,

Release Number: 15-1849-CHI

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