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Region 5 News Release: 12-2359-CHI
Dec. 12, 2012
Contact: Scott Allen Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Bontrager Excavating Ltd. in
Uniontown, Ohio, for failing to protect workers in trench
Company has history of failing to comply with trenching standards

UNIONTOWN, Ohio – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Bontrager Excavating Ltd. in Uniontown with three willful safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. OSHA initiated the inspection in June after receiving a complaint alleging unsafe working conditions. Proposed penalties total $115,500.

"Bontrager Excavating has again failed to take adequate safety measures to protect their workers from cave-ins at excavation sites despite having lost employees in the past as a result of failing to follow these industry-specific standards," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "OSHA implemented a trenching and excavation special emphasis programs in the 1980s, so the industry is well aware of the safety regulations for trenching operations."

OSHA placed Bontrager Excavating in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2011, after one worker was killed and another injured in a trench collapse in December 2010 in Stark County. The program focuses on recalcitrant employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations. Under the program, OSHA may inspect any of the employer's facilities or job sites. For more information, visit

The three willful violations cited from this most recent inspection involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing storm connection lines in a trench approximately 6-feet deep, ensure that spoil piles of soil were placed at least 2 feet back from the trench edge and provide a safe means of egress to workers inside a trench box. OSHA regulations require that a stairway, ladder, ramp or other means of egress be provided in a trench. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at

Prior to this inspection, Bontrager Excavating had been inspected seven times since 1992, resulting in 17 violations, 15 of which directly related to various trenching hazards.

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

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report 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 Cleveland Area Office at 216-615-4266. 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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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at The information above is available in large print, Braille or CD from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.

* Accessibility Assistance Contact OSHA's Office of Communications at 202-693-1999 for assistance accessing PDF materials.