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Ohio excavation business may face $115,500 in fines

When a company willfully violates industry protocol for adequate protections of its workers, most Ohio residents agree that it should be penalized, especially when those willful violations can lead to workplace accidents that cause injury or death. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration defines a willful violation as "one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health."

OSHA issued Bontrager Excavating Ltd., based in Uniontown, three willful violations for failing to follow guidelines to prevent cave-ins on workers in trenches. These violations come after a trench collapse in 2010 that left one worker dead and another injured.

Every employer should take the prevention of workplace injuries seriously. Unfortunately, some employers choose to place their bottom line above the safety of their workers. In some instances, OSHA targets those companies that repeatedly and flagrantly violate safety practices. Following the trench worker's tragic death in 2010, OSHA placed the company in a program labeled the Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The prevention of cave-ins is clearly still a concern, as the company is still receiving violations for failing to protect its workers in 2011.

Fortunately, all workers who suffer workplace injuries are protected under the Ohio workers' compensation system, regardless of fault. If one is injured while working, a claim can immediately be filed to seek medical treatment. All medical expenses related to the workplace injury will be reimbursed upon approval of a claim. Additionally, benefits can be obtained if one is unable to work due to an injury. In the tragic event of a death on the job, there are additional survivor benefits that may be obtained by an immediate family member in addition to reimbursement for funeral expenses.

Source: Occupational Safety & Health Administration, "US Labor Department's OSHA cites Bontrager Excavating Ltd. in Uniontown, Ohio, for failing to protect workers in trench," Dec. 12, 2012 Dec. 10, 2012

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