Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-185
Tuesday, October 5, 1999
Contact: John M. Chavez
PHONE: (617) 565-2075
BIG DIG CONTRACTOR CITED BY OSHA FOR ALLEGED WORKPLACE SAFETY VIOLATION IN FATAL FALL OF WORKER
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Perini/Kiewit/Cashman, A Joint Venture, of Boston, Massachusetts, for an alleged REPEAT violation of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following an investigation of an accident in which a worker on Boston's "Big Dig" project was killed this past August. The agency is proposing $35,000 in penalties for the alleged violation.
According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts, the investigation began on August 17. On August 16, an employee of Perini/Kiewit/Cashman fell fourteen feet while standing on a support beam in a tunnel under Boston's South Station and sustained serious injuries. He died the following morning.
"Our investigation revealed that the employee had been standing on that beam without the benefit of any sort of fall protection, such as guardrails, safety nets or a connected personal fall arrest system," said Gordon. "We are citing the employer for an alleged repeat violation because this is not the first time this employer has run afoul of OSHA's fall protection safety requirements."
Gordon noted that on February 4, 1997, Perini/Kiewit/Cashman was cited, among other things, for a SERIOUS violation of OSHA's fall protection standard following an inspection of a worksite at 185 Kneeland Street in Boston. The company contested this citation, but it was upheld in a decision by an administrative law judge of the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
"This tragic accident could have been avoided," said Gordon, "if this employer, who from past experience is well aware of the OSHA requirements and the proper precautions that need to be taken, had simply made sure that each employee on this job was properly protected from the hazards of falling."
Gordon noted that falls are the leading cause of on-the-job deaths in the construction industry and that earlier this year OSHA launched a region-wide education and enforcement program intended to reduce such accidents by increasing employer and worker awareness about potentially fatal fall hazards in their workplaces and the means by which they can prevent and eliminate them.
However, she stressed, since OSHA cannot possibly be at every job site all of the time, the law makes it the employer's ultimate responsibility to ensure that their employees are protected from such hazards.
Gordon urged Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Braintree. She added that OSHA's toll-free nationwide hotline -- 1-800-321-OSHA (1-800-321-6742) -- may be used to report workplace accidents and fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, especially those situations which occur outside of normal business hours.
A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.
A serious violation is defined as 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.
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, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
# # #
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.