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Region 1 USDL 04-412-BOS/BOS 2004-072
Friday, April 2, 2004
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074


Safety Hazards on Route 3 Highway Project Lead to $371,000 In OSHA Fines for Massachusetts Contractor

METHUEN, Mass. -- The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Modern Continental Construction Co., the lead contractor on a highway improvement project through Middlesex County, Mass., for failing to protect its workers against cave-in, fall and drowning hazards at four different worksites on Route 3 in Bedford, Billerica and Chelmsford. The company faces a total of $371,000 in proposed fines for the violations.

"To ensure that injury and illness rates continue to decline, we must make sure that employers protect employees from workplace hazards," said U.S. Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao. "The significant penalty of $371,000 in this case demonstrates the Administration's commitment to protecting the health and safety of American workers."

OSHA's inspection found employees at the two Chelmsford worksites exposed to cave-in hazards while working in unprotected excavations that also lacked safe means of escape. At both sites, the supervisors with the knowledge to spot the cave-in hazards and the authority to correct them failed to do so. In addition, workers at one site were exposed to falls of up to 28 feet from an unguarded walkway while workers at the other site faced crushing hazards from a crane that had been set on unstable ground and had not been inspected for defects.

Workers at the Bedford and Billerica sites who were required to work over or near the Concord and Shawsheen rivers faced serious injury if they fell in the water since the required life-saving skiffs, life vests and ring buoys were not available. At the Bedford jobsite, an unsafe raft used to transport workers across the Shawsheen River and an un-inspected and improperly positioned scaffold posed additional hazards.

Modern Continental was cited for four alleged willful, five alleged repeat and seven alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act. The willful citations account for $235,000 in proposed fines, $120,000 in penalties stemmed from the repeat citations and $16,000 in fines from the serious citations. A detailed breakdown is contained in the attached fact sheet.

Cambridge-based Modern Continental has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. OSHA's Methuen area office conducted the inspection. Its telephone number is (617) 565-8110.

OSHA conducted almost 40,000 inspections in fiscal year 2003, an increase of 2,000 inspections over 2002 levels; most were focused on high hazard industries. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is dedicated to saving lives, preventing injuries and illnesses, and protecting America's workers. For information, visit www.osha.gov.


Fact Sheet - OSHA Citations and Proposed Penalties

Modern Continental Construction, Co.
Route 3 North Transportation Improvements Project
Middlesex County, Mass.

Site #1
Route 110/Route 3 - Chelmsford, Mass.         Proposed fines: $157,500.
  • One alleged willful violation, with proposed fine of $70,000, for: employees exposed to possible cave-in hazards while working in an inadequately guarded excavation and the competent person on site failed to correct the hazard.
  • Three alleged repeat violations, with $87,500 in proposed penalties, for: no fall protection for employees working on an unguarded walkway; incomplete guardrails on a walkway; and no safe means of egress from the excavation.
Site #2
Parkhurst Rd./Route 3 - Chelmsford, Mass.         Proposed fines: $107,500
  • One alleged willful violation, with $70,000 proposed fine, for: employees exposed to possible cave-in hazards while working in an inadequately guarded excavation and the competent person on site failed to correct the hazard.
  • Two alleged repeat violations, with $32,500 in fines, for: no safe means of egress from the excavation; crane not inspected for defects.
  • One alleged serious violation, with $5,000 in fines, for: a crane set on unstable ground.
Site #3
Concord River/Route 3 - Billerica, Mass.         Proposed fines: $59,000
  • One alleged willful violation, with a $55,000 fine, for: employees working next to water's edge without the use of life jackets.
  • Two alleged serious violations, with $4,000 in proposed fines, for: no skiff available; and ring buoys not immediately available on site where employees worked over or near water.
Site #4
Shawsheen River/Route 3 - Bedford, Mass.         Proposed fines: $47,000
  • One alleged willful violation, with a fine of $40,000, for: an unsafe man-made raft used to transport workers across water.
  • Four alleged serious violations, with $7,000 in proposed fines, for: no ring buoys and no skiff available where employees worked over or near water; scaffolding erected with unsound footing; and scaffolding not inspected for defects.
Total proposed fines for all inspections:         $371,000
  • A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the OSH Act and regulations.
  • A serious violation is defined as a condition that exists where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.
  • A repeat citation is issued when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar violation and that citation has become final.
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Archive Notice - OSHA Archive

NOTICE: This is an OSHA Archive Document, and may no longer represent OSHA Policy. It is presented here as historical content, for research and review purposes only.

OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents

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