4 of the biggest OSHA fines of Q2 2023
OSHA frequently publicizes cases where inspections result in large fines. The naming of contractors buttresses the agency’s efforts to raise awareness of safety standards and to punish companies that don’t comply.
Often, these citations include small residential builders, usually with a history of repeatedly failing to provide their workers with adequate protection from hazards. Employers tend to negotiate fines down from their initial totals.
Here are some of the top fines highlighted by OSHA in the second quarter of 2023:
R Construction Civil LLC
A federal safety investigation from OSHA alleges R Construction Civil LLC of Buffalo, Texas, repeatedly failed to follow workplace safety procedures during excavation work, which ultimately contributed to a worker’s death near Manvel, Texas, in October 2022.
According to OSHA, R Construction Civil, a site preparation contractor, allowed two workers to enter an excavation without sloping or a protective system to prevent the 25-foot trench from collapsing. One of the workers became pinned against a mechanical compactor and died when the trench wall caved in.
As a result, OSHA issued two repeat citations, for the employer not providing means to exit the excavation, failing to keep soil piles from the excavation’s edge and for using inadequate protection. OSHA also issued one serious citation, alleging R Construction Civil did not inspect the excavation daily.
Fines totaled $257,822. R Construction Civil is contesting the fines.
The contractor did not respond to requests for comment by phone or email.
Goldstar Excavation and Sewer
A Keenesburg, Colorado, utilities contractor faces hefty fines for allegedly continuing to fail to provide workers with proper protection in excavations one year after a worker fatality, according to OSHA.
On Aug. 13, 2022, a 17-year-old worker employed by Goldstar Excavation and Sewer perished when a large chunk of asphalt struck them in the head when an unprotected excavation wall caved in. A company foreman also sustained injuries, according to OSHA. Following the collapse, the agency proposed $15,625 in penalties.
In March, a new investigation found a jobsite in Fort Collins, Colorado, had allegedly exposed workers — including the previously injured foreman — to those same hazardous trenching conditions. As a result, the agency cited the company with two serious, two willful and two repeat violations totaling $206,698. OSHA also placed Goldstar in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Goldstar is contesting all fines and charges, saying in a statement shared with Construction Dive that it provided the proper training and protection for an employee who disobeyed direction.
“The new hire signed and agreed to all safety terms including use of shoring,” the statement said. “It was on site, and was available. He got in the hole against company policy and was removed from site immediately and terminated.”
The employer declined to comment further until the matter is settled.
United Custom Homes LLC
An Oswego, Illinois, framing contractor allegedly exposed six carpenters building new townhomes to falls of up to 21 feet without fall protection, according to OSHA.
Inspectors from the agency claimed they observed workers employed by United Custom Homes LLC working without proper protection from fall hazards on April 12. In addition to the lack of protective equipment, OSHA alleged the contractor failed to train the workers on the use of protection and forklift operations, while also failing to provide eye protection.
As a result, OSHA issued one willful, one repeat and two serious violations with proposed penalties totaling $151,260. The findings in OSHA’s April inspection mirror other fall protection violations by United Custom Homes on six other jobsites in the Chicago area since 2015, the agency said. The company owes more than $81,000 in unpaid penalties, OSHA claimed.
The company has no public website or publicly available phone number, so it could not be reached for comment by Construction Dive.
Coronado Excavation of Sewer and Water Repairs LLC
Fines: $112,508 ($79,980)
Status: Informal Settlement
A Brighton, Colorado, utilities contractor has settled with OSHA to reduce penalties stemming from alleged violations that led to a worker’s death in a trench collapse.
In December 2022, a trench at an Aurora, Colorado, jobsite collapsed and killed a 23-year-old employee of Coronado Excavation of Sewer and Water Repairs LLC. OSHA investigators alleged the contractor exposed its workers to an unprotected trench and said the trench collapse occurred while workers installed pipes on the residential job.
OSHA claimed Coronado Excavation had not trained workers on trenching hazards, protected them from materials falling into the trench nor provided safe access into and out of the excavation.
As a result, Coronado Excavation faced four serious and two willful violations totaling $112,508. According to OSHA’s database, the latest event in the citation’s lifecycle was an informal settlement altering the penalty owed by Coronado to $79,980.
Coronado Excavation did not respond to requests for comment.