Region 1 News Release: BOS 98-230
Thursday, December 3, 1998
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald, (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES WINNISQUAM, NEW HAMPSHIRE, CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL SAFETY VIOLATION FOR LACK OF CAVE-IN PROTECTION AT BRISTOL, N.H., EXCAVATION SITE
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Piscopo Contracting, Inc., of Winnisquam, New Hampshire, for an alleged Willful violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Bristol, N.H., excavation worksite and has proposed penalties totaling $27,500.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violation was discovered during an inspection conducted November 25, 1998, at a water main installation site located at Chandler Street and Route 3A in Bristol. The inspection was conducted under OSHA's national emphasis program which targets trenching and excavation worksites for unannounced spot inspections. Piscopo Contracting had seven employees working onsite at the time of this inspection.
"The inspection found two employees working in an seven foot deep excavation that lacked protection against a possible collapse of its side walls," said May. "Effective collapse protection must be in place and in use before employees enter an excavation since its sidewalls can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape."
May noted that the size of the fine proposed in this case reflects OSHA's classification of the citation as Willful, the most severe category of OSHA citation. OSHA issues willful citations only when it believes based on information gathered in its inspection that the employer knew what safeguards were required to protect workers yet apparently elected not to supply them.
"Of particular concern in this case is the fact that on September 25, two months to the day before this inspection was conducted, OSHA cited this employer for a violation of this same OSHA safety standard at an excavation worksite located on Main Street in Rochester, New Hampshire," said May. "While no collapse occurred in either instance, that good fortune was in spite of, not due to, the absence of effective collapse protection."
Specifically, the company is being cited for one alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $27,500, for allowing employees to work in an excavation that was not protected against collapse by shoring, sloping of the soil or other effective means.
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord at 603-225-1629 and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline --1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742)-- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citation and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.