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Region 1 News Release: 09-1365-BOS/BOS 2009-390
Tues., Nov. 17, 2009
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

Cave-in hazard in downtown Boston trench leads to $33,700 in US Labor Department OSHA fines for Hyde Park, Mass., contractor

BRAINTREE, Mass. - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards after an OSHA inspector observed three company employees working in an unprotected trench on Friend Street in Boston. The Hyde Park, Mass., contractor faces a total of $33,700 in proposed fines.

"An unprotected trench is a potential grave, since its sidewalls can collapse in an instant, crushing and burying workers before they have a chance to react or escape," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "Workers should never enter a trench until it is protected against cave-ins."

The OSHA inspector found that the nearly six-foot deep trench was not sloped at a shallow angle or otherwise protected against a potential collapse of its sidewalls onto the employees working within. OSHA previously had cited this employer in December 2006 for an unprotected excavation at a Worcester, Mass., jobsite.

Due to the previous violation, OSHA has now issued P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. one repeat citation, with a $28,000 fine, for this latest hazard. OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has been previously cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.

The contractor also has been issued two serious citations, with $5,700 in fines, for the absence of a ladder or other safe means to exit the trench and for not having the trench inspected by a competent person, one with the knowledge and authority to identify and correct hazards such as these. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavations five feet or deeper must be protected against collapse. Detailed information about excavation hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Braintree Area Office; telephone 617-565-6924.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, OSHA's role is to promote safe and healthful working conditions for America's men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, outreach and education. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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 www.dol.gov/compliance.


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