Department of Labor Logo OSHA News Release - Region 1


July 10, 2024

Investigations find contractor repeatedly put employees in unguarded trenches that collapsed, trapped, injured workers in Massachusetts, Rhode Island

Boston Waterproofing & Construction twice exposed workers to potentially deadly hazards

BOSTON – Twice in less than three months in late 2023, a Boston waterproofing contractor exposed employees to life-threatening cave-ins and excavation hazards at residential worksites in Arlington, Massachusetts, and Warwick, Rhode Island, federal workplace safety investigators found.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined that in each instance – in Arlington on Sept. 10, 2023 and in Warwick on Dec. 2, 2023 – a Boston Waterproofing & Construction Corp. supervisor recruited, then ordered untrained day laborers to enter and work in unprotected excavations, despite the employees raising safety concerns and asking for cave-in protection, which the employer did not provide. The excavations collapsed at both locations, with each cave-in injuring and burying an individual worker.

At the Arlington jobsite, the employer made no attempt to rescue the trapped employee, took away the employee's phone and struck the trapped employee with objects to prevent the employee from seeking medical attention.

At the Warwick site, the trapped employee asked the employer to call 911 for help and for transport to the hospital but the employer objected. The employer did not use proper medical equipment to remove the injured employee from the excavation. Instead, the employer carried the injured worker to a personal vehicle, drove the employee to an urgent care facility and left the employee there.

OSHA also determined during the Warwick inspection that the employer caused significant damage at the work site and then failed to either fix it or take responsibility. The employer then lied to and threatened the homeowner, after the homeowner sought to bring the damage to the employer's attention.

OSHA cited Boston Waterproofing & Construction Corp. for willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, including lack of cave-in protection and training for the employees, not having a competent person inspect the excavations at both worksites and not providing access to emergency medical services and transportation at the Warwick jobsite.

OSHA proposed a total of $451,694 in penalties – $225,847 for each inspection – for the violations.

View the citations for the Arlington inspection and the Warwick inspection.

"Boston Waterproofing & Construction Corp. employed an especially disturbing business model that appears deliberately designed to exploit day laborers, who the employer places in clearly dangerous conditions without required training and adequate protection," said OSHA Regional Administrator Galen Blanton in Boston. "The company's brazen and callous actions led OSHA to issue willful citations in both cases as we seek to hold the employer accountable for its illegal, unsafe and frankly inhumane conduct."

The Arlington inspection was conducted by OSHA's Andover area office and the Warwick inspection by the agency's Providence area office.

Employers have 15 business days from receipt of OSHA citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. Boston Waterproofing & Construction Corp. did not respond to both sets of OSHA citations and penalties. As a result, they became final on April 18, 2024 and May 14, 2024, respectively, and the employer has forfeited any appeal rights.

"Under federal law, workers have the right to a safe and healthful workplace and the right to raise safety or health concerns with their employer and contact OSHA without fear of retaliation," added Blanton. "We encourage workers to learn more about their rights and protections under the Occupational Safety and Health Act. Information and assistance are available in a variety of languages."

Trenching standards require protective systems in trenches deeper than 5 feet, soil and other materials must be kept at least 2 feet from the edge of a trench and employees must be trained to recognize and address trenching hazards. Additionally, trenches must be inspected by a competent person, be free of standing water and atmospheric hazards and have a safe means of entering and exiting prior to allowing a worker to enter.

Learn more about OSHA and trench safety, including additional information on trenching hazards and solutions, and a safety video.

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Media Contacts:

James C. Lally, 617-565-2074, lally.james.c@dol.gov
Ted Fitzgerald, 617-565-2075, fitzgerald.edmund@dol.gov

Release Number: 24-785-BOS