Admin. Judge Orders Construction To Pay $59k For Willful Trenching Violations

                               Newport, DE ( - An administrative law judge with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has found that Newport-based Daisy Construction willfully violated the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration's trenching standards, and ordered the company to pay $59,000 in penalties.

Dennis L. Phillips' decision resolves litigation that followed citations issued by OSHA based on a 2010 investigation. Two willful violations were failing to provide employees working in a trench with an adequate protection system to prevent cave-ins and protect employees by removing them from the unprotected trench. One serious violation was failing to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions. The company contested the citations, and the case was litigated before the commission.

The decision upholds the willful and serious classifications of the violations, and it could become a final order of the commission on or about Feb. 13 unless a petition for appeal is filed.

"This decision is a victory for excavation workers who regularly face dangerous trenching conditions, and underscores the Labor Department's commitment to pursue workplace safety and health violators to the full extent of the law," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's acting regional administrator in Philadelphia. "Employers have a legal obligation to ensure that proper precautions are taken to prevent cave-ins."

A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. Detailed information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available on OSHA's website at

To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Wilmington Area Office at 302-573-6518.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.

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