Boston contractor fined by OSHA for trench hazards

Last month, a Boston, Massachusetts, contractor was fined $161,000 by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for “alleged willful and serious violations of workplace safety standards” at a construction site in Hanover.

The contractor, Walsh Corporation, is accused of failing to protect a worker from a cave-in and failing to take measures to prevent a construction accident when hazards were revealed at a Hanover job site.

The citation, which was issued on Oct. 13, resulted from an OSHA inspection at a Walsh Corp. jobsite where workers were installing a water main. Reportedly, an OSHA inspector witnessed an employee working in an unprotected straight-walled trench that lacked protection to prevent its walls from caving in and was more than five feet deep.

Additionally, the site around the trench created hazards, there was no safe way for the employee to exit the trench in the case of a cave-in and the employee was not wearing protective headwear, OSHA said.

The OSHA inspector said that there was not a representative from Walsh Corp. at the jobsite who could correct these hazards after they were pointed out, and the employee remained working in the unsafe trench, at risk of serious injury or death.

The Boston contractor was cited with two willful violations with $140,000 in proposed fines, and three serious violations with $21,000 proposed in fines.

“In recognition of the severity of these hazards, as well as this employer’s knowledge and failure to correct them, we are proposing the maximum allowable fine for each cited condition,” OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts said.

Cave-ins put the lives of construction workers at risk, which is why it is imperative that employers take the necessary precautions to prevent them from happening.

The employer in this case is lucky that a serious accident didn’t injure the employee, or it could be facing a personal injury lawsuit in addition to OSHA fines.

Source: Wicked Local Hanover, “Contractor faces OSHA fines for Hanover work,” Oct. 26, 2011.