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Region 1 News Release: 10-286-BOS/BOS 2010-106
Wed., March 10, 2010
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: 617-565-2074

US Labor Department's OSHA proposes $178,800 in fines for Massachusetts and Rhode Island contractors for Newton, Mass., cave-in hazards

ANDOVER, Mass. - Responding to a complaint of potentially unsafe conditions at a synagogue under construction at 349 Dedham St. in Newton, Mass., the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration found that employees of Telsi Builders, the project's Newton-based general contractor, and its concrete subcontractor, Ocean State Forms Inc. of Cumberland, R.I., were working in excavations up to 14 feet deep that lacked protection against a collapse of their sidewalls.

"Workers at this site were needlessly exposed to cave-in hazards on multiple occasions," said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "In one instance, had the unprotected 14-foot high excavation wall collapsed, it would have engulfed workers pouring concrete formwork and crushed them beneath tons of concrete as well as soil and debris."

The cave-in hazards were exacerbated by the placement of excavated spoils at the edge of excavations and the lack of a safe means of exiting the excavations. Workers for both contractors also risked impalement on unguarded protruding steel rebar, falls into uncovered 7-foot deep holes and head injuries from a lack of protective helmets for workers in the excavations. In addition, Telsi employees were exposed to additional fall hazards from defective and uninspected ladders and while crossing over an excavation on a plank that lacked guardrails.

As a result of these conditions, Telsi Builders and Ocean State Forms both have been issued four willful citations, with $84,000 apiece in fines; Telsi has been issued four serious citations, with $7,200 in fines; Ocean has been issued two serious citations, with $3,600 in fines. Telsi faces a total of $91,200 in fines, while Ocean State faces a total of $87,600. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for worker safety and health, while serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards and safety is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

"With the coming of warmer weather and thawing of the soil, I urge employers to review their work practices, equipment and training to ensure that none of their employees enters an excavation unless and until it is properly guarded," said Mangiafico. "Their workers' lives could depend on it."

Each contractor has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Andover Area Office; telephone 978-837-4460.

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 these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.

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U.S. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at http://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 http://www.dol.gov/compliance.


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