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Region 1 News Release:    07-1805-BOS/BOS 2007-358
Monday, November 26, 2007
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

Cave-in hazard at Nantucket, Mass., jobsite leads to $34,200 in U.S. Labor Department OSHA fines for Cape Cod contractor

BRAINTREE, Mass. - A Marstons Mills, Mass., contractor faces $34,200 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for an unprotected trench and other hazards at a construction site on Hummock Pond Road on the island of Nantucket in Massachusetts.

Bortolotti Construction Inc. was cited for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards following an Oct. 17 OSHA inspection which found employees installing a water line in a five feet, five inch by six feet, eight inch deep trench that lacked any protective system to prevent its sidewalls from collapsing. OSHA standards mandate that all excavations five feet or deeper be guarded against cave-ins.

"Employees should never be allowed into an excavation until it is properly and effectively protected against collapse," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director in Braintree. "The prospect for death or catastrophic injury is always present, as a cave-in can overwhelm and bury employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they can react or escape."

The cave-in hazard was exacerbated by the piling of excavated material at the edge of the trench, which could have undermined the trench's walls and fallen onto the employees. There also was no ladder or other safe means to exit the trench and no head protection for the employees in the trench.

OSHA had cited Bortolotti in March for similar hazards at a Mashpee, Mass., jobsite. Consequently, four repeat citations, carrying $22,200 in fines, were issued for these conditions at the Nantucket worksite. OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer previously has been cited for a similar hazard and that citation has become a final order.

Additionally, during the Nantucket inspection, OSHA found water accumulating in the bottom of the trench, determined that there had been no inspection by a competent person to identify and correct trenching hazards, and found that a damaged sling was being used to lift sections of pipe. These three conditions resulted in four serious citations with $12,000 in proposed fines. 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.

OSHA inspectors who encounter excavations in the course of their duties will stop and open inspections on the spot, as happened in this case. 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

The company 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).

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

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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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