Illinois Contractor Hit with $63,000 OSHA Fine for Exposing Workers to Trench Hazards

Illinois Contractor Hit with $63,000 OSHA Fine for Exposing Workers to Trench Hazards


Posted November 15, 2015 by admin

IL contractor issued OSHA violations for exposing workers to trench hazards
IL contractor issued OSHA violations for exposing workers to trench hazards

An Illinois sewer and water contractor based in Schaumburg has recently been issued three OSHA safety citations, along with a $63,910 fine, for allegedly subjecting workers to trench hazards.

According to OSHA, the contractor – VKR Enterprises, doing business as Mr. Rooter of Cook County – has been issued five OSHA citations within the past three years for trench-related safety violations. Among the various violations the contractor is alleged to have committed include:

  • Failing to provide cave-in protections for trench workers
  • Failing to provide safe egress, as well as a safe means of exiting trenches for workers
  • Failing to provide trench workers with safety helmets.

Commenting on this enforcement action, OSHA Area Director Angeline Loftus stated:

An unprotected trench can bury a worker in seconds and cause severe or fatal injuries…Last year, a Mr. Rooter employee escaped serious injury in a trench collapse in Niles. It is inexcusable that this employer continues to expose workers to dangerous conditions. The company knows that every trench deeper than 5 feet must have cave-in protection.

Background OSHA’s General Rules for Excavation & Trenching Safety

While OSHA has a number of regulations pertaining to excavation and trench safety, some of the general rules are as follows:

  • Soil and other materials must be kept at least 2 feet away from trench edges.
  • Heavy equipment must be kept away from the edges of trenches.
  • Trenches should be inspected at the beginning of each shift, as well as following any water intrusion (such as rain).
  • Trench workers should wear safety helmets and, if trenches are by traffic, highly visible clothing.

To see a copy of OSHA’s citations, including one willful and two repeat citations, to VKR Enterprises, click here.

At this point, VKR Enterprises only has a matter of days to respond to OSHA’s enforcement action. The options for response include complying with the penalties, requesting a hearing with local OSHA officials or filing a formal appeal to contest the findings.

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