Complaint Investigation Results in OSHA Citations for New York Contractor

April 3, 2017
A New York contractor allegedly exposed workers to excavation hazards at a high school construction site.

Acting on a complaint in June 2016, OSHA inspectors found employees of one of the area’s largest general contractors working in an unprotected 10-foot deep excavation at a suburban New Jersey high school, in violation of federal safety and health laws. OSHA has issued citations for nine violations  – one willful and eight serious – to the Landtek Group Inc., a New York-based general contractor that specializes in sports facility design and construction. The company faces $197,752 in fines as a result.

The citations follow an OSHA inspection at Verona High School in Verona on June 22, 2016, where the agency found that Landtek allowed its workers to enter and work in an unprotected, 10-foot deep excavation that had no protective systems in place as required. Landtek is the general contractor for site improvements at Verona High School, including the construction of new tennis courts and synthetic turf fields.

OSHA has a national emphasis program on trenching and excavations. The trenching standards require protective systems on trenches deeper than 5 feet, and soil and other materials kept at least 2 feet from the edge of trench.

“Without needed protections in place, an excavation can quickly become a grave as thousands of pounds of soil collapse upon workers below ground,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany Area Office. “The Landtek Group must re-examine its safety procedures and take all available precautions - including installing shoring or other means – to prevent unexpected movement or collapses of the soil that can lead to disaster.”

The contractor was cited with an alleged willful violation for exposing workers to cave-in hazards, because the excavation lacked proper cave-in protection or safeguards. OSHA also issued alleged serious violations related to Landtek’s failure to prevent employee exposures to fall, atmospheric and explosion hazards. The company also allegedly failed to:

  • Have a competent person inspect the excavation.
  • Have a written permit space program.
  • Train employees on safely performing their job duties and the hazards associated with them.
  • Coordinate rescue and emergency services for workers entering a sewer manhole.
  • Provide mechanical retrieval equipment in case of an emergency.

Employers have 15 business days from receipt of citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

To ask questions; obtain compliance assistance; file a complaint; or report amputations, eye loss, workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742).

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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