OSHA cited a Sterling Heights, Mich., construction company for alleged violations of workplace safety and health standards and proposed penalties totaling $416,000.
Ric-Man Construction Inc., an excavation contractor specializing in pipeline and tunneling work, was cited for 16 violations, six of which are categorized as willful.
Employees were performing tunneling and deep excavation work installing concrete pipes for a water main project in Toledo, Ohio.
"Unfortunately, management knowingly and repeatedly exposed workers to potentially fatal trenching hazards," said Acting OSHA Administrator R. Davis Layne. "At the time of initial inspection, employees were working without protection inside a 22-foot deep trench. Similarly hazardous working conditions were documented over the course of this investigation, often within plain view of foremen."
The citations are the result of an OSHA investigation which began Feb. 1, 2001, in response to a complaint alleging that employees were working in trenches over 20 feet deep without cave-in protection.
OSHA cited the company for six alleged willful violations, with proposed penalties of $378,000, including four for failure to protect employees from trench cave-ins.
Ten serious citations, with penalties totaling $38,000, were issued for various violations of standards including not providing safe access/egress from trenches, improper use of trench boxes and neglecting to properly train employees in trenching hazards.
Ric-Man Construction has 15 working days to contest the citations.
by Virginia Sutcliffe