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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 BOS 2002-247
Mon., Dec. 16, 2002
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
Underground Utilities Hazards at Rhode Island Worksite
PROVIDENCE, R.I. -- Failure to protect workers against unguarded trenches and unmarked underground utilities at a Burrillville, R.I., worksite has resulted in $129,800 in proposed fines against a Fitchburg, Mass., underground utilities contractor.
Fiore Construction Co., Inc. has been cited by the U.S. Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for alleged willful, repeat and serious safety hazards at a sewer construction project at a Burrillvile mobile home park, "The Village at Maplehill". The citations and fines follow three OSHA inspections conducted between June and September of this year.
According to Kipp Hartmann, OSHA's Rhode Island area director, each inspection was prompted either by Fiore's excavating equipment striking underground power lines or by reports of Fiore employees working in trenches that lacked cave-in protection.
"Our inspections found workers exposed to two of the deadliest hazards in sewer construction: being crushed in the collapse of an unprotected trench or being electrocuted by contact with unmarked underground power lines," Hartmann said. "It's imperative for the safety of their workers that employers locate and work safely around underground utility lines and that they properly protect trenches against collapse."
OSHA is citing Fiore for two alleged willful violations and proposing $98,000 in fines. The company also faces $22,800 in fines for three alleged repeat violations for failing to supply cave-in protection on another trench, not supplying a ladder or other safe means of exit from a trench, and failing to have a competent person inspect the trench for hazards.
An additional $9,000 in fines is proposed for four alleged serious violations for not instructing employees in the recognition of unsafe conditions, an earlier instance of failing to determine the location of underground utilities, storing excavated spoils at the edge of a trench and using an inadequately sized trench box.
Fiore Construction Co., Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, and/or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA's Providence Area Office conducted the inspection. Its telephone number is (401) 528-4669.
A fact sheet detailing the citations and proposed penalties is attached.
Citations and Proposed Penalties Fiore Construction Co. Inc Burrillville, R.I. Worksite
Two alleged willful violations, with $98,000 in proposed penalties, for:
- Failure to supply cave-in protection for employees working in an 8-foot deep trench;
- Failure to determine the estimated location of underground utilities prior to opening an excavation.
- No ladder or other safe means of exit provided in a trench;
- Trench not inspected daily by a competent person;
- Employees in a trench not protected from cave-ins by an adequate protective system. [OSHA had previously cited the company for substantially similar violations in September and December 1999, following inspections at jobsites in Exeter, N.H. and Holden, Mass.]
- Failure to instruct employees in the recognition of unsafe conditions;
- Failure to use safe and acceptable means of estimating the location of underground utilities;
- Excavated materials stored at trench's edge;
- An excavation extended more than 2 feet beneath the bottom of a trench box and the box did not extend at least 18 inches above the top of the trench.
- A willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
- A repeat violation occurs when a company has been cited for similar violations within the past three years.
- A serious violation is one that could cause death or serious physical harm and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at http://www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7773 or TTY (202)693-7755.
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