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OSHA News Release
Region 1

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Region 1 News Release: 06-2012-BOS/BOS 2006-341
Monday, December 4, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074

U.S. Labor Department's OSHA Fines Dighton, Mass., Contractor $66,400 for Cave-In Hazard at Cape Cod Jobsite

BRAINTREE, Mass. -- For the fourth time in three years, the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Dighton, Mass., contractor for allegedly failing to provide cave-in protection for its employees. A total of $66,400 in fines has been proposed against Pavao Construction Company Inc. following a June 16 OSHA inspection of an excavation at a jobsite located on Route 6a in Barnstable, Mass.

OSHA's inspection found that two employees were exposed to cave-in hazards while working in a 7-foot, 2-inch deep, straight-wall trench that lacked protection against a possible collapse of its side walls. OSHA had cited Pavao in 2003, 2005 and 2006 for the same type of hazard at jobsites in Norwood, Hingham and Barnstable.

"Effective cave-in protection is essential since 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," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for southeastern Massachusetts. "While it's fortunate that no cave-in occurred in this case, the potential for death or serious injury was clearly present. Failure to provide this vital and required safeguard is gambling with worker's lives and that's always a losing bet."

The company was issued two willful citations, carrying $55,000 in proposed fines, for the lack of cave-in protection and not instructing employees to recognize and avoid trenching-related hazards. Two repeat citations, with $8,400 in fines, were issued for storing excavated materials at the trench's edge and no head protection for employees working in the trench. One serious citation, with a $3,000 fine, was issued for failing to adequately inspect the trench for all unsafe conditions.

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. OSHA issues a serious citation 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 has been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.

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 area office, telephone (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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