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Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-198
Friday, October 22, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE: (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES EAST BRIDGEWATER, MASS., CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS FOLLOWING FATAL AUGUST TRENCH COLLAPSE
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Little Dryden Enterprises, LLC, an East Bridgewater, Massachusetts, contractor, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at a Bridgewater, Mass., worksite and has proposed penalties totaling $72,000.
According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for southeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations were discovered during an inspection initiated August 20, 1999, after a trench collapse at a pipeline installation site on Highview Terrace in Bridgewater claimed the life of a four-year-old girl. Little Dryden Enterprises, LLC, was a contractor installing concrete drainage pipeline at the location and had two employees working onsite on the day of the accident.
"The inspection identified several alleged violations of OSHA safety standards designed to protect employees whose duties require them to work in or near excavations," said Gordon. "In this case, the standards required the contractor to provide cave-in protection for workers, store excavated soil two feet or more beyond the edge of a trench so its sidewalls are not weakened and the soil does not fall into the trench, train employees to recognize and avoid trenching hazards and conduct daily inspections to identify and correct safety hazards. These requirements were not met on this jobsite."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
Two alleged Willful violations, with $56,000 in penalties proposed, for:
- failure to have a protective system in place to prevent cave-ins in a trench five feet or more in depth;
- a four-foot high pile of excavated spoils was placed at trench's edge, where it could fall back into the trench. [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.]
Five alleged Serious violations, with $16,000 in proposed penalties, for:
- no ladder or other safe means of exit from the trench was provided to workers;
- failure to protect workers by backfilling, covering or barricading a trench more than six feet in depth where the trench could not be readily seen by employees working near the trench;
- workers were not trained to recognize and avoid trenching hazards nor instructed in correct procedures to prevent trenching hazards;
- failure to have a competent person conduct daily inspections of the trench to identify and correct hazards;
- employees were not wearing hard hats on the jobsite.
[A serious violation is defined 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.]
"Though OSHA's enforcement authority extends only to hazards posed to employees on the job, most of the conditions cited here imperiled not only workers but anyone else who happened into the immediate vicinity of the trench," said Gordon.
Gordon urged southeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Braintree 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.
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.
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.
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