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Region 1  BOS 2002-192
Sept. 26, 2002
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074


Trenching Hazards Lead to Nearly $110,000 in Fines
against Two Ludlow, Mass., Contractors

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. -- The repeated failure of two Ludlow, Mass. contractors to protect employees against cave-in hazards has resulted in a total of $109,400 in fines from the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

F & J Incorporated, of 135 Carmelinas Circle, was cited for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following OSHA inspections at two sewer installation worksites in Palmer, Mass., while Baltazar Contractors, Inc., of 82 Carmelinas Circle, was cited for an alleged willful violation following an inspection at a Milford, Mass., excavation site. Both have previously been cited by OSHA for failing to ensure cave-in protection.

In Palmer, OSHA cited F & J for an alleged willful violation at a Park St. jobsite after employees were observed working in an 8-foot deep trench that was not adequately guarded against a collapse of its sidewalls. The company was also cited for an alleged repeat violation for storing excavated material less than two feet from the trench's edge and an alleged serious violation for employees not wearing hardhats in the excavation when there were overhead hazards. A total of $30,200 in fines is proposed.

F&J was cited for an alleged willful violation at a Thorndike St. jobsite for placing a 4 to 5-foot tall pile of excavated spoils at the edge of the trench's sidewalls, thus exposing employees working in the trench to a possible collapse of those walls. Citations were also issued for three alleged serious violations for employees not wearing hardhats in the excavation; no ladder or safe means of exit from the excavation from the trench; and use of a damaged trench shield. $31,200 in fines is proposed for these items.

In Milford, Baltazar was cited for an alleged willful violation for allowing employees at a Purchase St. jobsite to work in an 8-foot deep excavation that lacked cave-in protection. A fine of $48,000 is proposed.

"These contractors knew full well that cave-in protection was required yet apparently elected to not provide it," said Ronald E. Morin, OSHA Area Director for central and western Massachusetts. "Excavation collapses are swift, sudden and often deadly. Thirty-one American workers died in such accidents in 2000. There's no excuse for employers failing to supply such a basic, common sense -- and legally required -- safeguard."

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, 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.

The OSHA Area Office in Springfield conducted the inspection. The telephone number is (413) 785-0123.

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FACT SHEET

F&J Incorporated Total Proposed Fines: $61,400
Jobsite:      Park St., Palmer, Mass.
Total proposed fine for this inspection: $30,200

One alleged willful violation, with a proposed fine of $28,000, for:

• employees working in an 8-foot deep trench which lacked cave-in protection.

One alleged Repeat violation, with a $1,600 fine proposed, for:
• storing excavated material less than two feet from the edge of the trench.

One alleged serious violation, with a $600 fine proposed, for:
• employees not wearing hardhats while in the excavation

Jobsite: Thorndike St., Palmer, Mass.
Total proposed fine for this inspection: $31,200

One alleged willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $28,000, for:

• locating a 4 to 5-foot tall pile of excavated spoils at the trench's edge, exposing employees to a potential cave-in hazard;

Three alleged serious violations, with $3,200 in fines proposed, for:
• employees not wearing hardhats while working in the trench; no ladder or other safe means of exit from the trench; and use of a damaged trench shield.


Baltazar Contractors, Inc. Total Proposed Fines: $48,000
Jobsite: 289 Purchase St., Milford, Mass.

One alleged willful violation, with a proposed fine of $48,000, for:

• two employees working in an 8-foot deep trench that was not protected against cave-ins by an adequate protective system.
Total Proposed Fines for Both Employers: $109,400
  • A willful violation is defined by OSHA as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
  • A repeat citation is issued when an employer has previously been cited for a substantially similar hazard and the citation has become final.
  • A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. 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) 693-7773 or TTY (202)693-7755.


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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