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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-109
Thursday, June 10, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE : (617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES HULL, MASSACHUSETTS, CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS AFTER SOUTH BOSTON WALL COLLAPSE
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has completed an inspection stemming from an April 23, 1999, wall collapse at a South Boston, Mass., worksite which seriously injured two workers. OSHA has cited the workers' employer, Chapel Hill Development Corp., of Hull, Massachusetts, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and proposed $21,550 in penalties against the company.
According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts, the alleged violations concern inadequate bracing for the collapsed wall as well as other deficiencies involving scaffolds, excavation safety, employee training and site safety inspections.
Chapel Hill Development Corp. was renovating a brick tenement building at 53 Thomas Park into condominiums and had six employees working on the job. On that day of the accident, Chapel Hill employees were pumping concrete into the space between a concrete block wall and the building's original foundation when the wall collapsed, trapping two workers beneath its debris.
"The inspection found that the wall had not been adequately designed, erected, supported or braced against collapse," said Gordon. "In addition, the scaffold on which employees worked was supported by the same bracing used on the wall, a second scaffold had not been set on a firm foundation, excavated areas below the building's original foundation had not been shored against possible collapse, employees had not worn required head protection and had not been trained to recognize and address excavation, scaffolding and other hazards, and safety inspections that could have identified and corrected these hazards had not been conducted."
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
One alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $7,000, for:
- concrete block walls used as formwork were not designed, fabricated, erected, supported, braced and maintained so they were capable of supporting without failure all vertical and lateral loads.
Eleven alleged Serious violations, with $14,550 in penalties proposed, for:
- failure to provide a competent person to conduct site safety inspections;
- failure to instruct employees in the recognition, avoidance, control and elimination of hazards associated with, and applicable regulations for, scaffolding, excavations and concrete formwork;
- employees exposed to being struck by falling concrete block, debris and tools while working in close proximity to scaffolding which lacked toeboards or equivalent protection; employees exposed to head injuries from not wearing helmets while working beneath overhead hazards;
- a tubular welded frame scaffold on which employees worked was not equipped with base plates, mud sills or other firm foundation; employees working on scaffold plank platforms which were inadequately supported by the formwork bracing system; failure to provide a competent person to inspect the scaffolds;
- unshored or unsupported excavations made below the building's foundation and retaining walls; employees worked within two feet of an unprotected straight-cut excavation face; a competent person did not inspect excavations, adjacent areas and protective systems for evidence of possible cave-in situations;
- drawings and plans for the concrete formwork were not developed and maintained.
Gordon urged 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.
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 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.
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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