Mon., Nov. 5, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
BRAINTREE, Mass. ¿ An unguarded trench at a Revere, Mass., worksite has resulted in $52,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for an Avon, Mass.-based contractor.
D'Alessandro Corp. was cited for alleged willful and serious violations of trenching safety standards at a water line installation site at 400 Revere Beach Blvd. The citations and proposed fines follow an OSHA inspection begun June 6 after OSHA was informed of a potential cave-in hazard at that location.
OSHA found employees working in a six-foot two-inch deep straight-walled trench in sandy soil without any protection from a collapse of its walls. OSHA standards require that employees working in excavations five feet or deeper be protected against cave-ins. Protection can include shoring walls, using a trench box or sloping walls at a shallow angle.
"Employees should not have been working in a trench in this condition," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree. "While they were fortunate that no collapse occurred, the absence of an injury or fatality does not reduce the hazard that existed. Unprotected trenches can collapse in an instant, burying employees beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to escape."
As a result of OSHA's inspection, D'Alessandro Corp. was issued one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $49,000 for the lack of cave-in protection, and one serious citation, with a $3,000 fine, for storing piles of excavated spoils at the edge of the trench where they could fall onto employees in the trench.
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.
Gordon noted that excavation safety is an OSHA priority. Agency inspectors who observe excavation hazards can and will stop work and open inspections on the spot. To help employers understand how to comply with regulations and protect employees, OSHA has posted a trenching "Quick Card," an interactive eTool and other detailed information on excavation safety on its Web site at www.osha.gov/SLTC/constructiontrenching/index.html.
D'Alessandro Corp. 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).
OSHA operates a vigorous enforcement program, conducting more than 39,000 inspections in fiscal year 2007 and exceeding its inspection goals in each of the last eight years. In fiscal year 2007, OSHA found more than 89,000 violations of its standards and regulations.
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 www.osha.gov.
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