Region 1 News Release: 11-1529-BOS/BOS 2011-362
Oct. 26, 2011
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
US Labor Department secures decision affirming OSHA citations and fines
against Danbury, Conn., contractor for cave-in hazards
Sand Cut Properties LLC ordered to pay more than $137,000 in penalties
BOSTON – The independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission has upheld willful and serious citations and $137,200 in fines issued by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Commission to Sand Cut Properties LLC, a Danbury, Conn., contractor.
OSHA cited Sand Cut Properties in November 2008 after inspectors at a Brookfield, Conn., work site found an employee working in a collapsing 6- to 9-foot-deep excavation that lacked cave-in protection and had piles of excavated materials overhanging its edge as well as water seeping into its bottom. The employee was exposed to an additional crushing hazard when he exited the excavation by riding in the bucket of an excavator. The citations and fines reflected the seriousness of the violations and the employer's knowledge of and failure to prevent the cave-in hazards.
The company contested the willful violations cited and accompanying fines to the review commission in December 2008. A hearing was held before Administrative Law Judge Dennis L. Phillips on June 28, 2011. On Sept. 22, Judge Phillips issued a decision affirming the citations and ordering Sand Cut Properties to pay $137,200 in fines. The decision will become a final order on Nov. 10 if Sand Cut does not appeal to the commission.
"This was an imminent danger situation that could have resulted in a fatality and should not have existed in the first place," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's New England regional administrator. "This decision should remind employers in Connecticut and elsewhere that failing to supply basic, common sense and legally required safeguards will result in financial and legal consequences, just as employees face the consequences of death or disabling injuries when such safeguards are absent from their workplaces."
"The U.S. Department of Labor will actively pursue the appropriate legal measures to protect the lives and well-being of America's workers when their employers fail to do so," said Michael Felsen, the Labor Department's regional solicitor for New England.
The original safety inspection was conducted by OSHA's Bridgeport Area Office in Connecticut. The case was litigated for OSHA by attorney James L. Poliantes of the Labor Department's Boston Regional Solicitor's Office.
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 ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
SHRC Docket Number: 09-0020
Secretary of Labor v. Sand Cut Properties LLC
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