"This worker literally came close to an early grave because the cemetery failed to provide proper excavation protections," said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA

Grave Matter: OSHA Fines NY Cemetery Company for Cave-In

The agency cited St. John Cemetery Corp. for five violations, two classified as willful, after a worker was partially engulfed in May 2015 while in a grave opening.

OSHA has cited St. John Cemetery Corp. of Middle Village, N.Y., for a total of five violations -- two classified as willful and three as serious -- after an investigation of a cave-in and serious injury earlier this year. The company owns and operates five cemeteries in the New York City area, according to OSHA, which has assessed $123,200 in fines.

An employee of St. Charles/Resurrection Cemeteries in Farmingdale, N.Y., was hurt when the walls of a grave opening in which he was working collapsed and buried him up to his waist, OSHA reported. The Long Island Area Office launched an investigation and "found that the excavation and its support systems lacked adequate protection against cave-ins and the excavation had not been inspected to identify such deficiencies. Other hazards included damaged equipment and the placement of excavated soil on the edge of the unprotected trench. These conditions exposed employees to the hazards of cave-in, engulfment and struck-by injuries," according to the agency's news release.

"This worker literally came close to an early grave because the cemetery failed to provide proper excavation protections. This cave-in could have been prevented if proper and legally required trenching safety procedures had been followed by the employer," said Anthony Ciuffo, OSHA's Long island area director. "It is imperative that St. John Cemetery Corp. ensure that workers at all its cemeteries are protected against cave-in hazards and ensure that an incident such as this does not happen again in the future."

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