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  • Writer's pictureLucas Nava

Rainwater: 'There is no excuse for Peter Dillon’s failures to protect workers'

The warrant was issued following the findings of a federal investigation into a fatal trench collapse in November, according to a Jan. 26 news release. In May, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Peter Dillon, owner of the now-defunct A4S LLC, following a worker suffering fatal injuries while installing residential sewer pipes when the trench around him caved in.

“There is no excuse for Peter Dillon’s failures to protect workers when federal requirements clearly outline and require safety measures proven to save lives,” Regional Solicitor of Labor John Rainwater said in the release. “Today’s arrest by the Summit County Sheriff’s Office cannot recover a life lost in this senseless tragedy but it is a step toward seeking justice for the family.”

The collapse was reportedly caused by deteriorating conditions at the project, which A4S LLC could've prevented by using legally required trench protection systems, according to the release. OSHA issued A4S LLC three willful citations for failing to ensure the excavation was inspected by a competent person; failing to instruct employees on how to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions; and not having a trench protective system in place.

Investigators also issued an additional serious citation for failing to have a safe means of egress within 25 lateral feet of employees working in a trench, the release reported. OSHA proposed penalties totaling $449,853 and placed A4S LLC in its Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The U.S. Department of Labor referred the case to the fifth judicial attorney's office, recommending criminal charges for the company's refusal to require safety protection despite worsening trench conditions that led to at least one full collapse, according to the release.

Dillon has since agreed to forfeit any future ownership, leadership or management position that involves trenching, excavation or the oversight of workplace safety and health, the release reported.

“Let this tragedy serve as a reminder to other employers who willingly fail in their responsibilities to keep workers safe that the U.S. Department of Labor will exhaust every resource to hold employers accountable for protecting workers, including recommending criminal prosecution. OSHA has pledged to work with state prosecutors to raise the stakes in appropriate trenching death cases, and this is an example," OSHA Regional Administrator Jennifer S. Rous said in the release.

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