US Labor Department's OSHA fines Illinois-based Di Paolo Co.
$113,000 for failure to provide cave-in protection for trench workers
ELGIN, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Di Paolo Co. in Glenview, Ill., with one willful and nine serious safety violations for allowing workers in Elgin to perform trenching and excavation work at depths of up to 12.5 feet without cave-in protection. The citations carry total penalties of $113,000.
"Cave-in accidents are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations. At the time of the inspection, members of the Di Paolo management team were on site and still allowed workers to be exposed to serious safety hazards," said OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb in North Aurora, Ill. "This situation simply is unacceptable, and we will do all we can to protect workers by enforcing OSHA regulations."
Di Paolo Co. specializes in installation of underground water and sewer pipes. OSHA's inspection, initiated in June, cited the company with one willful violation for failing to provide cave-in protection for these workers. Cave-in protection is required when employees are working in an excavation at a depth greater than 5 feet. The violation has a proposed fine of $70,000. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements or plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Additionally, the company was issued nine serious violations with proposed penalties of $43,000 for failing to provide fall protection for shoring systems and walkways, failing to properly train flaggers, and having spliced flexible extension cords and unapproved repairs to electrical cords. An OSHA violation is serious when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Prior to this inspection, Di Paolo had been inspected by OSHA 20 times since 1982 and received 33 citations, many for trenching violations. In 1993, the company received four citations when a worker was fatality injured on a jobsite.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its latest 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. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's office in North Aurora at 630-892-2160. To report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).
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 assure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
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