Region 1 News Release: BOS 99-114
Wednesday, June 16, 1999
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
PHONE :(617) 565-2074
OSHA CITES LEOMINSTER, MASS., CONTRACTOR FOR ALLEGED WILLFUL
AND SERIOUS SAFETY VIOLATIONS AT EXETER, N.H., EXCAVATION WORKSITE
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Labor Department has cited Fiore Construction Co.,Inc., of Leominster, Massachusetts, for alleged Willful and Serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act at an Exeter, New Hampshire, worksite and has proposed penalties totaling $56,800.
According to David May, OSHA area director for New Hampshire, the alleged violations were discovered during a safety inspection conducted May 25, 1999, at an excavation located on Water Street in Exeter. Fiore Construction is a contractor engaged in the installation of water mains for the City of Exeter and had five employees working on site at the time of the inspection.
"Employees were found working in a trench which lacked protection against a collapse of its sidewalls onto those workers," said May. "This could have been provided by shoring up the excavation's sidewalls, sloping the soil at a shallow angle or by use of a protective trench box, yet the inspection found none of these standard precautions in place or in use."
May explained that collapse protection is a necessity for employees in this type of work situation since an excavation's sidewalls can collapse suddenly and with great force, stunning and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape. In this case, the collapse hazard was amplified by the absence of a ladder or other safe means for employees to enter and exit the trench.
He also noted that the size of the fine proposed in this case reflects the classification of the collapse protection citation as willful, the most severe category of OSHA citation. Willful citations are issued only when OSHA believes, based on its inspection that the employer knew what safeguards were required to protect workers yet apparently chose to forego providing them.
"Cave-in protection is -- and should be -- the first order of business whenever a job requires employees to work in an excavation. There's nothing unusual nor arcane about this basic, common-sense -- and required -- safeguard and no real excuse for failing to supply it," said May, who added that this inspection marks the sixth time since 1993 that OSHA has cited this company under the collapse protection standard.
Specifically, the citations and proposed penalties encompass:
- One alleged Willful violation, with a proposed penalty of $55,000, for:
-- employees working in an excavation which was not properly protected against collapse by means of shoring, sloping of the soil at a shallow angle or other equivalent means of collapse protection.
- Two alleged Serious violations, with proposed penalties of $1,800, for:
-- failure to provide a ladder or equivalent means of entry and exit for employees working in the trench;
-- failure to provide certification that trench boxes had been properly designed and engineered.
May urged Granite State employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Concord 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.
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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.