Cave-In Hazards Lead to Contractor's $69,300 Fine

OSHA's inspection, initiated in response to a complaint about unsafe conditions, found A.A. Will Corp. employees working in a trench deeper than 5 feet that lacked protection against collapse of its sidewalls.

OSHA has cited A.A. Will Corp. $69,300 for alleged willful and repeat violations of workplace safety standards following an inspection of a worksite located at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority's Wonderland Station in Revere, Mass. The Stoughton contractor was installing electrical vaults in the station's parking lot.

OSHA's nighttime inspection, initiated in response to a complaint about unsafe conditions, found A.A. Will Corp. employees working in a trench deeper than 5 feet that lacked protection against collapse of its sidewalls. The trench also lacked a ladder or other means for the workers to exit in the event of a cave-in or other emergency.

"The unprotected walls of an excavation can collapse in seconds, crushing workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape. Employers must never allow an employee to face such a dangerous situation," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director in Middlesex and Essex counties. "Employers also should not assume that they are exempt from an OSHA inspection when they work at night. Worker safety is a priority that extends beyond nine-to-five hours.”

As a result of its findings, OSHA issued the company one willful citation with a proposed fine of $61,600 for lacking cave-in protection, and one repeat citation with a fine of $7,700 for lacking an exit ladder. The repeat citation stems from OSHA having cited the employer in February 2010 for a similar hazard at a Boston worksite.

OSHA standards require that all trenches and excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information on hazards and safeguards related to trenching and excavation is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

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