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OSHA News Release
Region 1

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Region 1 News Release: 07-402-BOS/BOS 2007-064
March 22, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074



Cave-in hazard at Congress Street Worksite in Boston Leads to $73,500 in U.S. Labor Department OSHA Fines for Sharon, Mass., Contractor

BRAINTREE, Mass. -- A Sharon, Mass., contractor's failure to supply cave-in protection for an employee working in an 8.6-foot deep excavation in downtown Boston has resulted in $73,500 in proposed fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

Walsh Construction Co. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun Sept. 15 in response to a report of an employee working in an unprotected excavation at 300 Congress St., where Walsh Construction was installing a water line.

OSHA's inspection found the trench lacked any protection against a collapse of its sidewalls. OSHA standards require that all excavations five feet or deeper be protected against cave-ins, since their sidewalls can collapse without warning, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape.

As a result, OSHA issued Walsh Construction one willful citation, carrying the maximum penalty of $70,000, for the lack of cave-in protection. The company also was issued one serious citation, with a $3,500 fine, for not performing an adequate inspection of the trench and allowing an employee to enter and work in the unprotected trench.

"The potential for death or serious injury is real and present whenever you have employees in an unprotected excavation," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts. "While it is fortunate that a collapse did not occur in this case, this was a matter of luck. Employee safety must not ever be left to chance."

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Detailed information on excavation safety, including a trenching "Quick Card," is available for employers and employees on OSHA's Web site at

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's office in Braintree, telephone (617) 565-6924.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit








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