The U.S. Department of Labor intends to fine a Stark County company $115,500 for three safety violations involved with a sewer trench collapse in December 2010 that killed a Canton man and injured his son.
The action was outlined Wednesday by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration against Bontrager Excavating Ltd. of Lake Township.
Killed in the accident was Scott Beatty, 50. Injured was his son, Scott J. Beatty Jr., 24, of Akron.
The accident occurred on a sewer project on Cheryl Lane Northwest in Jackson Township.
Bontrager was cited by the federal agency for three willful safety violations that triggered the proposed penalty.
“Bontrager Excavating has again failed to take adequate safety measures to protect their workers from cave-ins at excavation sites, despite having lost employees in the past as a result of failing to follow these industry-specific standards,” said Howard Eberts, OSHA’S area director in Cleveland.
OSHA adopted trenching safety standards in the 1980s and companies are aware of what they must do, he said.
The agency placed Bontrager Excavating in its severe violator enforcement program in 2011. That program focuses on what the agency calls recalcitrant employers that endanger workers due to willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
The three violations involve failing to provide cave-in protection to workers installing storm connection lines in a trench that was about 6 feet deep, ensure that spoil piles were placed at least 2 feet back from the trench edge and provide a safe means of egress to workers inside a trench box.
A willful violation occurs with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, OSHA said.
OSHA requires that all excavations 5 feet and deeper be protected against collapse.
The OSHA inspection began in June after the agency received a complaint of unsafe working conditions.
Prior to that inspection, the company has been inspected seven times since 1992 with 17 violations, 15 of which are related to trenching hazards, the federal agency said.
Bontrager Excavating has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference or contest the citations and penalties before a federal commission.
The company issued a statement, calling the federal action “unfounded.” It disagrees with the citation and intends to explore the validity of those OSHA citations through “appropriate legal channels,” said spokesman Brian Brittain, attorney for the company.
The company, he said, takes workplace safety seriously and is committed to eliminating hazards.