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Region 1 News Release: 07-1567-BOS/BOS 2007-304
Wed., Oct. 17, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

Halifax, Mass., contractor faces $57,000 in U.S. Labor Department OSHA fines for cave-in hazard at Braintree, Mass., jobsite

BRAINTREE, Mass. -- Liddell Brothers Inc., a Halifax, Mass., contractor, faces $57,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for a cave-in hazard at a jobsite located on Route 3 northbound in Braintree.

The company was cited for six alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun when an OSHA inspector driving by the jobsite observed an employee working in an apparently unprotected excavation.

The inspection found that the eight-foot deep excavation lacked any protective system to prevent a collapse of its sidewalls. OSHA standards require that all excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against cave-ins since their walls can collapse suddenly and with great force, crushing and burying employees beneath soil and debris.

As a result, OSHA issued Liddell Brothers a willful citation, carrying a $42,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

OSHA also issued the company five serious citations, with $15,000 in fines, for accessing the excavation by having an employee ride in the bucket of an excavator, placing excavated materials too close to the edge of the excavation, undermined roadway and guardrail adjacent to the excavation, lack of head protection, and inadequately inspecting the excavation and adjacent area for cave-in hazards. 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.

"The potential for death or serious injury at this jobsite was real and present," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree. "While the employee was lucky that no collapse occurred, excavation safety must not, and can never be, a matter of luck or chance. Proper safeguards must be in place and in use at all times."

Excavation safety is an OSHA priority and agency inspectors who observe excavation hazards can and will stop and open inspections on the spot, as in this case. Detailed information on excavation safety, including a trenching "Quick Card" and an interactive eTool, is available on OSHA's Web site at

Liddell Brothers Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Braintree Area Office, 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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