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Region 1 News Release: 08-49-BOS/BOS 2008-015
Tues., Jan. 15, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

Orange, Conn., contractor faces nearly $75,000 in fines from U.S. Labor Department’s OSHA for cave-in, other hazards at New Haven, Conn., jobsite

BRIDGEPORT, Conn. -- An unprotected trench and other hazards at a Walgreens construction site in New Haven, Conn., have resulted in the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) proposing a total of $74,600 in fines against an Orange, Conn., contractor. Louis Gherlone Excavating Inc. was cited for a total of 11 willful, repeat and serious violations of safety standards at a sewer line installation site located at 464 Whalley Ave.

OSHA opened its inspection on July 26, 2007, after an agency inspector spotted Gherlone employees working in unprotected trenches seven to nine feet in depth. OSHA standards require that all trenches five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. As a result, OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a proposed $56,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection.

“An unprotected trench can collapse in seconds, burying employees beneath tons of soil and debris before they can react or escape,” said Robert Kowalski, OSHA’s area director in Bridgeport. “The hazard is so severe that OSHA inspectors will stop and open an inspection on the spot whenever they observe an unprotected trench, as happened in this case.”

OSHA issued two repeat citations, carrying $9,000 in proposed fines, for hazardous conditions similar to those cited in a 2006 inspection of Gherlone at a West Haven jobsite. At that time, the company was cited for failure to provide a safe means of exit for employees from trenches and for failure to inspect the trenches for hazardous conditions.

Six serious citations, with $8,400 in proposed fines, were issued for potential fall hazards from an unprotected walkway and unsecured ladders; exposure to potential injuries from loose rocks, debris and falling objects; a chain sling not marked with its lifting capacity; untrained employees operating a laser; and employees not trained to recognize ladder and fall hazards.

Finally, two other-than-serious citations, with $1,200 in proposed fines, were issued for incomplete and inaccurate recording of occupational injuries and illnesses.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. Repeat citations are issued when an employer has previously been cited by OSHA for substantially similar hazards and the citations have become final. 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.

Detailed information on trenching and excavation safety, including an interactive e-Tool, is available on OSHA’s Web site at

Gherlone Excavating 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. The inspection was conducted by OSHA’s Bridgeport Area Office (telephone 203-579-5581).

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


U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. DOL is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit
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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