“Cave-in accidents are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations, and this was a completely avoidable accident had the company followed all the required OSHA standards. Employees were not adequately protected from cave-ins while working in trenches that reached up to 17 feet deep, and they had no safe way to get out of the trench in case of emergency,” said Rob Medlock, OSHA's area director in Cleveland, Ohio. “Company representatives are well aware of OSHA safety requirements while excavating but chose to ignore them, thus putting their workers in unnecessary danger.”
OSHA cited A. Bagnoli and Sons with two alleged willful violations for failing to provide proper cave-in protection shields at the excavation site and provide employees with a safe egress while entering and exiting a trench. 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 cited for two serious citations with proposed penalties of $4,200 for allowing employees to work under loads lifted by digging equipment and failing to keep excavated materials at least 2 feet from the edge of the excavation area. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists. Total proposed fines equal $140,000.
In 1989, A. Bagnoli and Sons was issued one serious citation for a lack of proper trenching protective equipment and a second serious citation for lack of required personal protective equipment.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with Medlock or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.