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OSHA News Release
Region 1

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Region 1 News Release: 06-1634-BOS/BOS 2006-260
Thursday, September 21, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074

OSHA Cites Contractor for Unguarded 10-Foot Deep Trench in South Boston

BRAINTREE, Mass. -- An Allston, Mass., contractor faces $38,600 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for allegedly allowing employees to work in a 10-foot deep trench that lacked protection against cave-ins. Shannon Construction Co. was cited for a total of six alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards.

OSHA's July 24 inspection of the sewer-installation work site on East 2nd Avenue, between L and K Streets, in South Boston., also found that water was allowed to accumulate in the bottom of the trench, and excavated material was stored at the edge of the trench.

In addition, a ladder of inadequate size was used to access the trench, workers were not trained to recognize unsafe trenching conditions, and the work site had not been inspected by a competent person who could identify and correct hazards such as these.

"This was an accident waiting to happen," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts. "While it's fortunate that no cave-in occurred, the potential was real and deadly. The walls of a trench can collapse without warning, crushing and burying workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they can react or escape."

OSHA issued a willful citation with a $28,000 fine for the lack of cave-in protection; a repeat citation with a $4,000 fine for piling excavated material at the trench's edge; and four serious citations carrying $6,600 in fines for the remaining items.

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 repeat citation is issued when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar violation and that citation has become final. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards require that all excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on excavation safety, including a trenching "Quick Card," is available for employers and workers 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 the OSHA area director or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The investigation was conducted by OSHA's Braintree, Mass., area office at (617) 565-6924.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace 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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