Skip to page content
Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez
Bookmark and Share

News Release

OSHA News Release: [09/08/2011]
Contact Name: Scott Allen or Rhonda Burke
Phone Number: (312) 353-3976 or x4807
Release Number: 11-1240-CHI

US Labor Department's OSHA cites J & S Plumbing of Elk Grove Village, Ill., for failing to protect workers from trench cave-ins

Companies failed to protect workers, warn product users of hazards

ELK GROVE VILLAGE, Ill. —The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited J & S Plumbing Inc. in Elk Grove Village for one willful and two repeat alleged safety violations involving failing to protect workers from cave-ins while performing repairs to a sewer line in Arlington Heights. Proposed penalties total $57,860.

"Cave-ins are a leading cause of worker fatalities during excavations, and failing to take adequate safety measures to prevent them is unacceptable," said Diane Turek, OSHA's area director in Des Plaines. "OSHA has had a trenching and excavation special emphasis program in place since the 1980s, so this industry is aware of the relevant safety regulations."

The willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $36,300, was cited for failing to properly protect workers who were in a trench more than 6 feet deep from cave-ins by not properly sloping the excavation area around the trench and not using an appropriate protective system. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

OSHA standards mandate that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards is available on OSHA's website at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/.

The repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $21,560, involve failing to provide a safe means of egress to employees working inside the trench and to protect them from the hazard presented by excavated material located at the edge of the trench. OSHA regulations require that a stairway, ladder, ramp or other means of egress be provided in case of an emergency. They also require materials to be placed at least 2 feet from the edge of excavations or for retaining devices to be used to prevent materials from falling or rolling into the excavation. A repeat violation exists when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years. J & S Plumbing was cited for the same violations in 2007 and 2008 at work sites in Arlington Heights.

Prior to OSHA's inspection in May, which was initiated under the agency's National Emphasis Program on Trenching and Excavation, J & S Plumbing had been inspected five times since 2002, resulting in 16 citations for various trenching violations.

View the J & S Plumbing citations at: http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/JSPlumbing_315509125_83111.pdf

The company 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. Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call OSHA's Chicago North Area Office in Des Plaines at 847-803-4800. To report workplace incidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, call the agency's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742). Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.