Workers in Aqueduct Tunnel Exposed to Excess Noise Levels; Firm Fined $52,500

Employees were also exposed to fall hazards of up to 14 feet from a lack of fall protection and from using a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the upper landing service for required stability.

OSHA has cited Barletta Heavy Division Inc. for alleged repeat and serious violations of safety standards at the Hultman Aqueduct project in Weston, Mass. The Canton, Mass.-based contractor faces a total of $52,500 in proposed fines.

An OSHA inspection found that employees working inside the aqueduct tunnel were exposed to excess noise levels and lacked hearing protection. The tunnel also lacked fire extinguishers, and employees were working in close proximity to an exposed energized electrical panel. In addition, employees were exposed to fall hazards of up to 14 feet from a lack of fall protection and from using a ladder that did not extend at least 3 feet above the upper landing service for required stability.

OSHA had cited Barletta in 2008 for similar fall hazards at worksites at Commonwealth Pier and Ashmont Station in Boston. As a result, OSHA has issued the employer two repeat citations with $37,500 in proposed fines for these recurring hazards. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule, or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

The noise, fire extinguisher, and electrical hazards resulted in the issuance of three serious citations with $15,000 in fines. OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

"Although several of these hazards were addressed during the course of our inspection, the fact remains that they should not have existed in the first place— or in the second place, in some cases," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties. "To be effective in protecting employees against work-related hazards, safeguards must be in place and in use at all times on all jobsites."

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