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Region 2 News Release:   BOS 2000-081
Thursday, June 1, 2000
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074

Over $52,000 in Penalties Proposed against Shea-Traylor-Healy

OSHA CITES PRIME CONTRACTOR ON METROWEST TUNNEL PROJECT FOR ALLEGED SERIOUS, REPEAT AND OTHER SAFETY VIOLATIONS

The U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Shea-Traylor-Healy, JV, of Framingham, Massachusetts, the prime contractor for the construction of the MetroWest Water Supply Tunnel between Southborough and Weston, Mass., for alleged Serious, Repeat and Other than Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act on the underground construction project and has proposed penalties totaling $52,300.

According to K. Frank Gravitt, OSHA area director in Methuen, the alleged violations were discovered during safety and health inspections conducted between January 11 and May 8, 2000, and encompass a variety of hazards associated with underground construction. These inspections were conducted as part of OSHA's periodic monitoring of the tunnel project. A separate inspection initiated in response to the May 11 collision of two trains in the tunnel is still open and ongoing.

Among the major hazards identified in the latest inspections:

  • employees who changed cutters on the head of the tunnel boring machine had to enter a confined space between the front of the machine and the tunnel's face and were thus exposed to the hazards of delayed rescue and an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere. The air in the confined space should have been tested, a confined space entry program implemented and confined space training provided to exposed employees;

  • locomotive engineers and brakemen were exposed to the hazard of being struck by falling debris while they passed beneath the shaft and/or a concrete loading platform due to the lack of an operator's canopy on their locomotives;

  • two instances where required air monitoring was not conducted to evaluate silica exposure levels and determine if and what level of respiratory protection was required for workers;

  • on February 7, after the ventilation system had been shut down for ten days, air testing of the tunnel was not conducted prior to employees' entering it;

  • employees were exposed to derailment, slipping, tripping or fall hazards at various locations where muck, mud or debris had accumulated and not been removed; in one instance, a work platform collapsed on January 24 after muck had accumulated on it;

  • emergency self-rescuer respirators were not available at all required locations and all required inspections of emergency respirators had not been conducted and recorded;

  • improper storage and handling of compressed gas cylinders, including excess amounts stored underground;

  • worn and damaged nylon lifting slings had not been removed from service;

  • restricted or lost workdays were not entered in the OSHA illness and injury log in a timely manner;

  • other items, including a too-narrow work platform on a scaffold, employees not kept clear of a suspended load, and failure to ensure a 25 ton motor was free of defects prior to its use in the tunnel.

On February 18 of this year, OSHA cited Shea-Traylor-Healy, JV for an alleged Willful violation, with a proposed fine of $45,500, for failing to protect workers from being struck by falling ice and muck while working in the tunnel. That citation and penalty are currently under contest. Gravitt noted that, prior to this year, OSHA conducted seven inspections of Shea-Traylor-Healy between August 1997 and August 1999. Those inspections resulted in citations for 11 Other than Serious violations, with a total of $5,140 in fines.

"Clearly, this upward trend is disturbing," said Gravitt. "Earlier inspections identified relatively few serious hazards, yet as the project continues the number and severity of cited hazards has greatly increased.

"Construction is, by its very nature, highly hazardous work and underground construction carries special risks and safety requirements," he said. "The fact that no one has been killed on this project should not engender a false sense of security. To minimize the risks posed to workers by their jobs, safety standards must continually and consistently be met, every day, every shift, without exception. The stakes are too high to allow anything less."

Gravitt urged Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area offices in Methuen, Braintree or Springfield 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. An other-than-serious violation is a condition which would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have a direct and immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees. A repeat violation is issued when an employer has been cited for a substantially similar violation on a previous OSHA inspection and that citation has become final.

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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The information in this release will be made available to sensory impaired individuals upon request. Voice phone: (617) 565-2072. TDD (Telecommunications Device for the Deaf) Message Referral Phone: 800-347-8029.

[Note: An item-by-item listing of the citations is attached]


Shea-Traylor-Healy, JV - Framingham, Mass. - Total proposed penalties: $52,300


Eighteen alleged Serious violations with proposed penalties of $39,650, for:

  • failure to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury in that employees were exposed to the hazards of delayed rescue and possible injury while entering or exiting a space between the tunnel face and the cutting head of the tunnel boring machine (TBM) without benefit of a confined space entry program and without testing of the confined space to determine an oxygen-deficient or toxic atmosphere;

  • failure to adequately train employees about the hazards of entering the confined space between the TBM and the tunnel face;

  • failure to provide a place of employment free from recognized hazards likely to cause death or serious injury in that locomotive operators and brakemen were exposed to the hazard of being struck by falling material while passing beneath the shaft and/or concrete loading platforms due to the lack of an operator's canopy;

  • failure to conduct air monitoring to gauge employees' exposure to silica during boring operations and removing of hardened concrete from a rail car;

  • failure to ensure that emergency respirators were available at underground work locations where employees could be trapped by smoke or gas;

  • failure to conduct required inspections of emergency respirators and maintain records of same;

  • failure to have a competent person conduct air testing prior to allowing employees to enter the tunnel after it had been shut down for 10 days;

  • employees exposed to slipping, tripping, falling and derailment hazards due to accumulated muck, mud and equipment in various shafts and tunnels;

  • employees accessing or leaving underground work area were exposed to slipping and tripping hazards while passing equipment parked on the rail transit system;

  • failure to ensure employees were kept clear of suspended loads;

  • failure to ensure that a 25 ton motor was free of defects before using it inside the tunnel;

  • failure to ensure that oncoming shifts were notified of the erection of a bulkhead in one tunnel;

  • compressed gas cylinders not secured in a vertical position; oxygen and compressed gas cylinders not properly stored; and not stored where they wouldn't be knocked over or exposed to damage.

  • excess amounts of fuel gas and oxygen cylinders kept below ground;

  • a scaffold platform walkway was not the proper width (at least 18 inches);

  • no fall protection for employees working in a high car elevated over 7 feet;

  • failure to provide a stairway or ladder for access to a concrete form.

  • protective footwear not provided to an employee required to work in wet conditions.

Two alleged Repeat violations, with proposed penalties of $12,000, for:

  • failure to ensure that damaged/defective synthetic nylon web slings were removed from service; [the company had previously been cited for a violation of this safety standard on September 27, 1999, following an inspection in Southborough, Mass.];

  • no safety guards for an abrasive grinder;[the company had previously been cited for a violation of this safety standard or its equivalent on October 30, 1997, following an inspection in Framingham, Mass.].

One alleged Other the Serious violation, with a proposed penalty of $650, for;

  • seven instances of failing to record lost or restricted workdays in a timely manner.

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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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