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Region 5 News Release: 11-1077-CHI
July 19, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-4807
Email: allen.scott@dol.gov      burke.rhonda@dol.gov

US Labor Department's OSHA fines Don Wartko Construction more than
$171,000, cites company for lack of trench protection at 3 Cleveland sites

CLEVELAND – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Don Wartko Construction Inc. in Kent, Ohio, with five willful safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at three separate work sites in Cleveland. The company faces proposed penalties totaling $171,600.

"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations," said Howard Eberts, OSHA's area director in Cleveland. "There is no excuse for this employer to repeatedly jeopardize its workers' safety. OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

Following a January inspection, Don Wartko Construction was cited for two willful violations with proposed penalties of $72,600 for failing to provide cave-in protection for workers in a trench more than 5 feet below grade and to provide a safe means of egress. In March, an OSHA inspector again observed the company allowing employees to work with no cave-in protection, and cited the company for another willful citation with a penalty of $36,300. The company was observed a third time, also in March, and cited with two willful violations for failing to provide cave-in protection and a safe egress for workers, carrying proposed penalties of $62,700. 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.

These inspections were conducted under OSHA's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Don Wartko Construction 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. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Cleveland Area Office at 216-615-4266. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency'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 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 http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.


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