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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 News Release: BOS 98-181
Thursday, September 24, 1998
Contact: John M. Chavez, (617) 565-2075
OSHA CITES JACKSONVILLE, FLORIDA, CONTRACTOR FOR EXCAVATION SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT HANSCOM AIR FORCE BASE IN BEDFORD, MASS.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited First Coast Construction, Inc., of Jacksonville, Florida, for alleged SERIOUS and WILLFUL violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at an excavation site on Hanscom Air Force Base in Bedford, Massachusetts. The agency is proposing a total of $44,500 in penalties for the alleged violations.
According to K. Frank Gravitt, OSHA area director for Northeastern Massachusetts, the citations issued to the company are the result of an inspection of an excavation site near Building 1201, Hanscom Air Force Base, which took place on July 28, 1998. The inspection was the result of a referral from base officials who were concerned about the safety of workers on the project.
"Our investigation uncovered a situation in which employees of the company were required to work in an excavation 10'6" deep which was not protected from cave-ins by any adequate means," said Gravitt. "However, the most disturbing aspect of this situation is that, a month earlier, the supervisor of this project had been advised by an OSHA compliance officer of the company's responsibility to provide the cave-in protection. Therefore, one of the citations we have issued is for a willful violation, since the company was explicitly aware of its responsibility under the law and chose to ignore it."
Gravitt stressed that, without proper shoring or sloping, any excavation, and certainly one over ten feet deep, can collapse suddenly and without warning, trapping workers under tons of earth and rock. "There is absolutely no excuse for any employer, especially one who is specifically aware of OSHA's excavation safety requirements, to place the lives of their employees in danger by disregarding those requirements," he said.
Consequently, OSHA has cited First Coast Construction, Inc., for the following alleged safety standard violations:
One alleged WILLFUL violation, including a penalty of $42,000, for failing to ensure that each employee working in an excavation was protected from the possible cave-in of a straight cut side wall that was 10'6" deep; and
One alleged SERIOUS violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $2,500, for failing to ensure that employees on a walking/working surface with an unprotected edge 10'6" from a lower level were protected from falling by the use of guardrail systems, safety net systems, or personal fall arrest systems.
Gravitt urged Northeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Methuen. He added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
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