The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) established the Severe Violator Enforcement Program in 2010 to monitor those companies that repeatedly fall short of workplace safety regulations. The most recent addition to the Program is C & G Refrigeration of Hanover, Pennsylvania, which exposed its workers to trench collapses in two separate incidents.
In April 2013, OSHA cited C & G for the first time after a trench collapsed at a work site. No workers were injured, but OSHA determined that the contractor had committed four safety violations by allowing employees to work unprotected in trenches seven feet deep. Last August, OSHA responded to a complaint and again found workers in a 13-foot-deep trench that had not been widened through approved methods and with no physical protection.
OSHA fined C & G $61,600 for four "willful violations," including failure to keep unsafe excavation materials at least two feet back from the edge of the trench and failure to instruct workers and have a certified professional inspect the construction site. An additional $3,080 penalty was issued for letting an employee work in a trench without a helmet.
"An unprotected trench can quickly become a grave without the proper safeguards in place," said OSHA's Harrisburg area director, Kevin Kilp. "This is why it is critical for employers in this industry to ensure that trenching safeguards are in place. This employer's history shows that it is fully aware of the dangers of trenching and excavation, yet they continue to put their workers' lives at risk."
Contractors should comply with OSHA regulations by enlisting the help of safety professionals who can train their workers to identify and prevent worksite hazards.