The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued Gerardi Sewer & Water Co. in Norridge, Ill., eight willful, two serious and three repeat safety citations for failing to protect workers from cave-ins during trenching operations. The citations arose from work the company performed in the Illinois villages of Elmhurst, Park Ridge, Oak Lawn and Des Plaines. Gerardi faces proposed penalties of $360,000.
OSHA issued willful citations alleging that Gerardi failed to properly protect workers from trench cave-ins, the result of four separate inspections conducted under the OSHA Trenching and Excavation Special Emphasis Program. The inspections occurred June 25 in Elmhurst, July 28 in Park Ridge, Sept. 21 in Oak Lawn and Nov. 17 in Des Plaines.
OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Employees were found to be working at varying depths from 5.9 to 8 feet without cave-in protection during the inspections.
Gerardi Sewer & Water Co. was issued repeat citations alleging that employees failed to wear hard hats and high-visibility vests at the Elmhurst site, and that Gerardi failed to provide a safe means of access and egress for employees working in an excavation site in Des Plaines.
The company was issued serious citations for allegedly failing to ensure that water accumulations were removed from a trench at both the Elmhurst and Des Plaines sites.
This case meets the criteria for OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. Initiated in the spring of 2010, SVEP is intended to focus on recalcitrant employers who endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
Prior to the four inspections detailed above, Gerardi Sewer and Water Co. had been inspected by OSHA eight times since 1987, resulting in 15 prior citations.
Gerardi Sewer and Water Co. 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
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