Contractor Cited for Cave-in Hazards, Other Trenching Violations

OSHA has cited The Welch Corp., a contractor based in Brighton, Mass., for alleged willful, serious, and other-than-serious violations of safety standards at a Brighton worksite. The company faces a total of $61,650 in fines, chiefly for excavation hazards.

An inspection found company employees working in a trench more than eight feet deep that lacked cave-in protection and a ladder or other safe means of exit, and also had excavated spoils piled at its edge, a condition that exposed workers in the trench to crushing or struck-by hazards, according to OSHA.

"Given these conditions, the potential for a fatal or disabling accident was real and present," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA's area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "While it's fortunate that no collapse occurred, excavation safety cannot rely on good fortune. Required safeguards must be in place and in use at all times."

As a result of its inspection, OSHA issued the company one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $49,500, for storing materials at the trench's edge; two serious citations, with $8,550 in fines, for the lack of collapse protection and exit ladder; and four other-than-serious citations, with $3,600 in fines, for incomplete injury and illness records.

"With the coming of warmer weather and the resumption of excavation work, I call upon the area's employers to review their excavation safety programs and make certain that their training, equipment, procedures and supervision are complete and effective," Gordon said. "The lives and well-being of their workers could depend on it."

OSHA standards require that all excavation five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on excavation hazards and safeguards is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

The Welch Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with the OSHA area director, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Area Office in Braintree, Mass.

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