For the fourth time in eight months, a Chicago-area pipeline and sewer contractor is facing federal citations and fines in connection with cave-in hazards during trenching operations.
OSHA has inspected Doherty, Giannini & Rietz Construction Inc., of Bensenville, IL, 27 times since 1988, resulting in 16 prior citations for lack of cave-in protection at various worksites, including four citations (totaling eight violations) since June 2010.
In the latest case, the underground contractor is accused of one willful and one repeat safety citation for failing to protect workers from cave-ins at a Chicago jobsite. OSHA has proposed a $60,600 fine in the case.
The company declined Wednesday (Feb. 9) to comment.
Repeat, Willful Violations
"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations," said Gary Anderson, OSHA's area director in Calumet City, IL.
"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 DGR employee was working in a trench at a depth greater than six feet without cave-in protection during an inspection Dec. 7. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. A trench box was present on the site but not installed in the trench, OSHA said.
The repeat citation alleges that the company failed to establish a safe work zone as regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation's manual on uniform traffic control devices.
A willful violation exists when an employer has demonstrated either intentional disregard for the requirements of the law or plain indifference to employee safety and health. A repeat citation is issued when an employer has been cited for the same or a similar violation within the last five years.
DGR, established in 1984, is a private water and sewer pipeline construction firm, according to Manta.com, the online small business community. The company has annual revenues of $50 million to $100 million, according to Manta.
Between June 16 and Dec. 31, 2010, OSHA inspected DGR five times. On four of those occasions, it issued citations: one on June 16, four on Aug. 31, one on Nov. 18, and two in December.
The inspections were conducted under OSHA’s national emphasis program on trenching and excavation. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards, adopted by OSHA in the 1980s, is available on the agency's website.
OSHA records also show DGR was issued:
• 3 violations from July 31, 2006;
• 1 violation from June 29, 2006;
• 3 violations from June 15, 2006;
• 1 violation from 2004;
• 1 violation from 2003;
• 5 violations from 2001; and
• 17 violations from seven different inspections in the 1990s.
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.