“Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations,” said Gary Anderson, OSHA’s area director in Calumet City, Ill. “This is the fourth time in recent months that OSHA has issued citations to this contractor related to the cave-in protection standard. Workers’ safety should be paramount on a jobsite, and OSHA is committed to protecting workers, especially when employers fail to do so.”

The willful citation alleges that a Doherty, Giannini & Rietz Construction employee was working in a trench at a depth greater than 6 feet without cave-in protection during a December 2010 inspection. A trench box was present on the site but not installed in the trench. The inspection was conducted under an OSHA national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either an intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The company was issued the repeat citation for failing to establish a safe work zone as regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation’s manual on uniform traffic control devices. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last 5 years.

The company has been inspected by OSHA 27 times since 1988, resulting in 16 prior citations for lack of cave-in protection at various worksites. Four of those violations have been issued since June 2010, including the citation from the December inspection.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, adopted by OSHA in the 1980s, is available on the agency’s website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Doherty, Giannini & Rietz Construction has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.