OSHA fines construction company $59,500

OSHA fines construction company $59,500

SAVOY — A Champaign construction company has been cited for alleged safety violations at a Savoy job site and is facing a $59,500 fine.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued citations to Duce Construction Co. by mail on June 2 for four safety violations, including three serious and one willful one, for failing to protect workers from trenching hazards at a job site at 65 E. Airport Road.

OSHA officials said the violations didn't result in any injuries.

OSHA initiated an inspection of the company in February under the National Emphasis Program for trenching and excavation.

"Each year, trench collapses result in numerous deaths and serious injuries," Tom Bielema, OSHA's area director in Peoria, said in a news release. "Employers that specialize in this type of work must take all necessary precautions to ensure their employees have safe working conditions."

According to OSHA standards, all excavations 5 feet or deeper must be protected against collapse.

"The trenching industry is so dangerous," OSHA spokesperson Scott Allen said. "We think it's important to respond (to violations)."

Duce Construction was cited for three serious violations for storing piles of soil within 2 feet of the edge of an excavation, failing to provide a means of egress from the trench and not equipping its employees with high-visibility safety vests when working near traffic.

A serious violation is one in which there is "substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known."

The construction company was cited for one willful violation for failing to ensure workers were protected from soil avalanching and cave-in hazards by failing to ensure that two trench boxes used in excavation were used correctly.

A willful violation is one committed with "intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirement or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."

Duce was cited for trenching violations in 2006 at a job site on Main Street in Danville and in 2008 at a job site at the intersection of East Green and South Locust streets in Champaign.

The company has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Duce Construction President Michael Ducey declined to comment.

Christine Walsh is editor of The County Star, a News-Gazette community newspaper. For more, visit county-star.com.

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