Massachusetts trenching company fined $354K by OSHA

Workers in Massachusetts and the rest of the nation depend on the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to keep them safe from injuries and fatalities. When employers are found in breach of OSHA’s safety and health policies, they are often fined.

This is the case for a Massachusetts trenching company that is expected to be fined $354,000 by OSHA for allegedly putting employees in Cambridge and Framingham at risk to cave-ins.

The company, P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. of Hyde Park, has been cited seven times since 2000 for violating federal trenching and excavation safety standards, OSHA said in a press release. OSHA said that the latest fines are a result of inspections which revealed that cave-in protection and a safe exit from the trenches were not in place.

The inspection into the Cambridge location began when an OSHA inspector spotted a P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. employee working in an unprotected trench. During the inspection, part of the trench wall collapsed with the employee still inside. OSHA said that the Framingham inspection began “after a concerned passer-by informed OSHA of workers in an unguarded trench.”

The company has been charged with four willful violations, which each carry the maximum allowable penalty of $70,000. Additionally, the company has been charged with five serious violations that amount to $32,000 in fines, and three repeat citations, which carry $42,000 in fines. The company will now have the opportunity to contest the fines or to just pay them.

P. Gioioso & Sons Inc. could also be placed on the Severe Violator Enforcement Program because of the citations, which would mean targeted follow-up inspections would be mandated.

“Time and again, this employer has chosen to ignore the law and, by doing so, placed its workers’ lives at risk,” said the OSHA Assistant Secretary. “Employers who ignore basic, common-sense, and legally required safeguards will face substantial fines and consequences.”

If you have been injured on the job partly due to unsafe working conditions, you may be entitled to compensation. By law, employers have a duty to keep their employees safe from foreseeable harm, which means that if safety regulations are ignored, the employer may be held liable for accidents that result.

Source: OHS Online, “$354,000 Fine Lodged Against Trenching Company,” 7/12/2011.