Trenching safety hazards at two Massachusetts work sites have led to $166,950 in proposed fines for a Methuen, Mass., contractor. OSHA cited L. Perrina Construction Co. Inc. for a total of 23 alleged willful, serious and other-than-serious violations of safety standards following inspections at work sites in Quincy and Lynnfield, where the company was installing water mains.
OSHA found that employees at both locations were exposed to cave-in hazards while working in trenches more than 6 feet deep that were not protected against the collapse of their sidewalls, exposed to struck-by hazards from material stored at a trench's edge in Quincy and an undermined sidewalk in Lynnfield and were not trained to recognize and avoid such hazards at either location. The Quincy trench also lacked a safe means of exit.
Additional hazards included damaged, inadequate or misused access ladders, a lack of inspections and safety training, electrical hazards, improper storage of flammables and incomplete recording of injuries and illnesses in Quincy. They also included damaged lifting slings, electrical hazards, no backup alarm on an earth mover and a lack of jobsite safety inspections in Lynnfield.
“An unguarded excavation is a tomb in waiting. Its walls can collapse in moments, crushing and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape,” said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA’s area director for Middlesex and Essex counties.
“This deadly hazard is exacerbated when workers are not provided an effective means of safely entering and exiting the trench. No worker should enter a trench unless and until all required safeguards are in place and in use,” said Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for worker safety and health. OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known. Detailed information on trenching and excavation hazards and safety is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
L. Perrina Construction has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.