OSHA Cites Excavating Company For Zero Protection Against Trench Collapse

                               Greenfield, WI (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Union Grove-based Willkomm Excavating & Grading Inc. with two willful violations for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins at a job site in Greenfield. Proposed penalties total $60,500.

OSHA's inspection was initiated Jan. 5 based on a complaint and was conducted under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation. Workers were connecting water lines to the city water mains in a trench more than 6 feet deep. The violations were failing to remove workers from a trench when a competent person found conditions that could result in a possible cave-in, and to provide required cave-in protection. 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.

"The employer is responsible for ensuring that workers are properly protected from known workplace hazards such as trench cave-ins, a leading cause of death and injury in excavation work," said George Yoksas, OSHA's area director in Milwaukee. "OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so."

The company was cited for violating OSHA's trenching protection standards in 2005 at a work site in Mukwonago and again in 2009 at a work site in Cudahy.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Willkomm has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal 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 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 Milwaukee Area Office at 414-297-3315.

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