Upstate NY Contractor Faces $49K Penalty for Cave-in Hazards

OSHA has cited Peter Luizzi & Brothers Contracting Inc. of Albany, N.Y., for an alleged willful violation of excavation safety standards at a worksite in Cohoes, N.Y.

Agency inspectors passing by a worksite at Villet Street and Hamilton Place observed a worker installing a water main in an apparently unprotected 6-foot-by-6-inch deep trench. An inspection was opened on the spot and OSHA found that the trench lacked protection against a potential collapse of its walls.

As a result, OSHA has issued the company one willful citation, carrying a proposed fine of $49,000, for the unprotected trench. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"You cannot overstate the gravity of this hazard," said Edward Jerome, OSHA's area director in Albany. "A cave-in can occur in seconds, crushing and burying workers beneath soil and debris before they can react or escape. Employers know that a trench must have effective cave-in protection in place every time workers enter it. Failing to provide protection could result in swift and serious injury or death for trench workers."

The contractor has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, meet with OSHA, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Albany Area Office.

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