Contractor, OSHA Settle Trenching Hazard Disputes

After receiving nine citations since 2000, a contracting company will be making big changes to improve safety.

OSHA has reached a settlement with a contractor that came with a hefty price tag: The Massachusetts company now owes OSHA $200,000 in fines. P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., a company that works on water and sewer lines, has received nine citations from OSHA during the past 12 years, including fines last year for allegedly allowing employees to work in unprotected trenches. The company contested the proposed fines of $354,000.

A settlement lowers those fines but requires major safety improvements to be made. "The company will be paying a hefty fine, but more importantly, it will be investing heavily in the safety and health of all of its workers through a very significantly ramped up safety and health program," said Christine Eskilson, OSHA's counsel in the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston, in a statement posted at OSHA's website.

"This company has now committed itself to entirely re-engineering its safety and health processes, and we intend to hold the company to that commitment," she added.

Not only will the fines be paid, but also OSHA will be notified of all construction jobs P. Gioioso takes during the next three years. Inspectors will also be allowed on the sites at all times without needing a warrant.

"We are pleased that this employer has decided to make a meaningful commitment to safety by pledging resources and upgrading its excavation practices, as well as implementing a comprehensive safety and health program," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England. "We encourage other employers to explore and pursue this approach to better safeguard their employees against everyday work site hazards."

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