March 27, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
BRAINTREE, Mass. -- A Fall River, Mass., contractor's failure to supply cave-in protection for an employee working in a 7.3 feet deep excavation in Norwood, Mass., has resulted in $36,400 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
Biszko Contracting Corp. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following a Nov. 8, 2006, OSHA inspection on Lenox Street in Norwood, where the company was relining water pipes. An OSHA inspector, while driving past the site had observed an apparently unprotected trench and opened an immediate inspection. The inspection found a company employee working in the unprotected straight walled trench. OSHA standards require that all trenches five feet or deeper be guarded against collapse.
"Trench walls can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "This employer knew collapse protection was required, having been cited for a similar hazard in November 2005, yet failed to provide this vital and required safeguard."
As a result, OSHA issued Biszko Contracting one willful citation, carrying a proposed fine of $35,000, for the lack of cave-in protection. 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.
The company was also issued one serious citation, with a $1,400 proposed fine, for lack of head protection for the employee in the trench. 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 www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Biszko Contracting 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 area 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 www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.