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Region 5 News Release: 11-1094-CHI
Aug. 8, 2011
Contact: Scott Allen      Rhonda Burke
Phone: 312-353-6976      312-353-4807

US Labor Department's OSHA cites Illinois-based Martin & Company
Excavating for failing to provide trench workers with cave-in protection

OREGON, Ill. – The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Martin & Company Excavating Inc., an underground utility construction and earth-moving company in Oregon, Ill., for one willful and three serious safety violations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at a Forreston work site. The company faces proposed penalties of $69,300 following a May inspection, which was conducted under the agency's Trenching and Excavation National Emphasis Program.

"Cave-ins during excavations are a leading cause of worker fatalities," said Kathy Webb, OSHA's area director in North Aurora. "Safety should be paramount on every job site and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

The willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $56,000, was cited for failing to protect workers who were installing a water line in a trench approximately 8 feet below grade. During the trenching operation, the water line was damaged and flooded the trench, which did not have cave-in protection. 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.

The serious violations, with proposed penalties of $13,300, include failing to have a competent employee on site to ensure workers were removed from the trench when there was evidence of an unsafe situation which could result in a possible cave-in; failing to equip an adjacent section of pavement that was hanging over the trench with a support system to protect employees from possible collapse; and failing to keep excavated materials or equipment at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations. A serious violation occurs 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.

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

Martin & Company Excavating 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 North Aurora Area Office at 630-896-8700. 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


U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at 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.

OSHA News Release - Table of Contents

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