Excavation work can be extremely hazardous, even under ideal conditions. Any Woodstock worker compensation lawyer can name situations in which workers were hurt or killed by improperly used excavating equipment. The risk of cave-ins is especially acute in trenching operations. An Illinois employer was recently cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration for failure to protect workers against the dangers of trenching.
Workers at severe risk
According to OSHA, in June 2014, A. Lamp Concrete Contractors, an Illinois construction company, was inspected in the field by OSHA investigators. OSHA’s National Emphasis Program for Trenching and Excavation provides for such unannounced inspections to secure a high standard of safety and prevent worker injuries. The inspector found a serious violation of safety protocol in this case: workers were active in an 8-foot-deep trench with no protection against cave-ins. The situation was prohibited by OSHA regulations, which require cave-in protection for every excavation site that reaches a depth of 5 feet or more.
OSHA finds contractors responsible for willful violation
The inspectors found the management of A. Lamp Concrete Contractors responsible for a willful violation of safety regulations. Willful violation is a more serious matter than mere negligence or innocent mistakes. For a violation to be willful, it must involve at least one of the following factors:
- Intentional disregard for safety requirements
- Deliberate ignorance of the law regarding employee safety
- Gross indifference to worker safety or health
In many cases familiar to a Woodstock worker compensation lawyer, employers have been found responsible for willful violation and forced to pay substantial fines or even cease operation.
Consequences for A. Lamp Concrete Contractors
This is not the first time the Illinois contracting company has faced difficulties with OSHA regulations. In 2008 and 2010, A. Lamp Concrete Contractors was cited for violations of trenching requirements. This case is more severe because of the deliberate and repeated risk posed to the life of employees. OSHA’s Chicago North Area office has proposed a total penalty of $69,300 for the company. Such a substantial fine can be a wake-up call for any small business that is neglecting basic safety procedures for the sake of increased profit.
Defending your rights on the job
According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, an average of 54 trenching workers die on the job in America each year. Employees involved in the excavating profession may face deadly trenching hazards on a daily basis. Every Woodstock worker compensation lawyer is aware that these workers are entitled to adequate safety protection. People who find themselves in hazardous work situations may benefit from speaking with an attorney.