Cornella Brothers Inc., Colorado Springs, Colo., was cited and fined $112,700 Monday for violating OSHA's excavating and trenching standards.
An investigation by OSHA's Englewood area office was initiated by a self-referral from an OSHA employee under a Nation Emphasis Program on trenching and excavating.
John Healy, OSHA area director in Englewood, said the violations resulted because the employer failed to provide adequate sloping, shoring, shields, or equivalent systems to protect employees from cave-in hazards.
Further, Cornella Brothers allowed excavating material to be stored at the edge of the excavation.
Additional citations were issued for accumulations of water in the excavation, lack of safe means of egress, and failure to utilize hard hats.
According to OSHA records, the company has three prior citations for unsafe excavations with two in 1998 and one in 1995.
"Disregard for employee safety is not acceptable," said Healy. "The cave-in hazards were obvious and supervisors should have removed workers from the potentially life-threatening conditions."
Healy said studies estimate that 100 employees are killed in excavation-related incidents each year in the United States.
Over the past year, OSHA has investigated 10 instances of employees being caught in cave-in in Colorado, including one fatality.