OSHA News Release - (Archived) Table of Contents|
OSHA PROPOSES $69,000 IN FINES AGAINST BIG DIG CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED SERIOUS HEALTH & SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT SOUTH STATION UNDERGROUND CONSTRUCTION PROJECT
The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Slattery/Interbeton/J.F. White/Perini, J.V., a contractor on Boston's Central Artery/Tunnel Project, for alleged Serious and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at an underground construction site. $69,000 in penalties are proposed against the contractor.
The alleged violations were discovered by OSHA during safety and health inspections of a tunnel jacking project located beneath railroad tracks leading into Boston's South Station railway terminal. OSHA initiated its inspections on December 5, 2001, as part of its ongoing monitoring of workplace safety and health on the Big Dig, said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts.
"The health inspection found instances in which employees were overexposed to airborne concentrations of crystalline silica generated during construction and the employer failed to take necessary steps to minimize this hazard, even though its own sampling for silica showed excess silica levels," said Gordon. "The safety inspection identified several fall hazards, employees working without fall protection, electrical hazards, an impalement hazard, and inadequate protection against flying debris for equipment operators working at the tunnel's face."
Gordon explained that crystalline silica, a basic component of sand and gravel, is often generated during tunneling and other construction activities. Continued exposure to crystalline silica can lead to silicosis, a lung disease which causes scar tissue formation in the lungs that reduces their ability to extract oxygen from the air. Crystalline silica is also a known human carcinogen. OSHA standards require employers to develop and implement engineering controls to reduce exposure levels to toxic substances and, where respirators are used, to implement an effective and continuous respirator program.
"Though many of the cited hazards were addressed during the course of the inspection, it should not have taken an OSHA inspection to prompt this employer to ensure that these basic, well-known and necessary worker safeguards were in place and in use at this jobsite."
The Health inspection resulted in $35,000 in proposed penalties for five alleged Serious violations, for:
The Safety inspection resulted in $34,000 in proposed penalties for sixteen alleged Serious violations, for:
Gordon urged Eastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Braintree or Methuen and added that OSHA's toll-free, nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents or fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially if they occur outside of normal business hours.
A serious violation is defined by OSHA as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and jobsites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.
The company has 15 working days from receipt of the 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.
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