Thurs., Oct. 16, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
METHUEN, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass., for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards at a sewer installation site located at Vega Road and McNeil Circle in Marlborough, Mass. The contractor faces $70,100 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection prompted by a report of potential unsafe conditions at the worksite.
"An unprotected excavation is an especially dangerous place in which to work since its walls can collapse, crush and bury employees before they can react or escape," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's acting area director in Methuen. "That's why proper and effective cave-in protection must be in place and in use before employees enter any excavation 5 feet or more in depth. Such required protection was missing in this excavation."
Specifically, OSHA found Baltazar employees working in an excavation more than 5 feet deep that lacked cave-in protection and a safe means of egress. A protective trench box that was on the jobsite was missing required securing pins, and the unprotected excavation had not been inspected by a competent person with the knowledge and authority to identify and correct these hazards.
As a result, OSHA issued Baltazar Contractors one willful citation, with a $56,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection; one repeat citation with a fine of $8,400, for the lack of safe egress (OSHA has cited Baltazar in 2006 for a similar hazard at a Stafford Springs, Conn., worksite.); and two serious citations, with $5,700 in fines, for the defective trench box and lack of inspection.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.
Detailed information on trenching and excavation safety, including an interactive e-Tool, is available on OSHA's Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/constructiontrenching/index.html.
Baltazar Contractors has elected to contest its citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Methuen Area Office; telephone 617-565-8110.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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.