Contractor Fined $360,000 for Lacking Cave-in Protection

Federal workplace safety authorities issued a $360,000 fine and several citations to a Norridge contractor that allegedly failed to protect workers from trench cave-ins at four suburban worksites.
The U.S. Department of Labors Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued Gerardi Sewer & Water Co. in Norridge 13 safety citations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations at worksites in Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Oak Lawn and Des Plaines, according to OSHA. (WCxKit)
Safety inspections beginning in June revealed employees were working in trenches from 5.9 to 8 feet deep without cave-in protection. Federal standards mandate that all excavations deeper than 5 feet be protected against collapse. The findings resulted in eight "willful violations," meaning the company is accused of intentionally violating safety standards or acting with "plain indifference" to worker safety, the release stated.
Gerardi was also given two "serious citations" — issued when conditions could cause death or serious injury — for standing water found in trenches at the Elmhurst and Des Plaines worksites, the release said.
Officials also issued three repeat citations after investigators allegedly found employees not wearing hard hats or high visibility vests at the Elmhurst site, and that there was no safe means of access for workers at a Des Plaines excavation site, the release said. The company has been cited for similar violations within the last five years.
"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations," Assistant Secretary of Labor for OSHA Dr. David Michaels said. "At each of these four jobsites, Gerardis president and foreman were present and still failed to protect their workers despite their knowledge of required safety procedures. This situation demonstrates a systemic problem with the way this company approaches safety and demonstrates an egregious disregard for workers' lives."
OSHA implemented a Trenching and Excavation Special Emphasis Program in the 1980.
Gerardi has been inspected eight times since 1987, resulting in 15 previous citations.
"There is no excuse for noncompliance at its jobsites," OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb added. (WCxKit)
The company was fined $360,000 and has 15 days to either comply with safety standards and request a review or contest the citations.

Author Robert Elliott
, executive vice president, Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. has worked successfully for 20 years with many industries to reduce Workers Compensation costs, including airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality and manufacturing. Contact: or 860-553-6604.
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