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OSHA Cites Two Massachusetts Contractors for Trench Violations

Two Massachusetts contractors have been cited for similar trench violations by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration within the past week.

On February 25, 2011, the first contractor cited was A.A. Will Corp., of Stoughton, for willful and repeat violations of workplace trench safety at the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority’s Wonderland Station in Revere, where they were installing electrical vaults in the parking lot of the station. Prompted by complaints of an unsafe jobsite, OSHA found workers in a ditch deeper than 5 feet without collapse protection or a ladder, which is a repeat violation for this contractor for a similar situation in February 2010 at a Boston jobsite. The company faces $69,300 in proposed fines.

The second contractor cited, Trainor Construction Co., of Canton, Massachusetts, was cited on February 28, 2011, for willful and serious violations of workplace safety at a jobsite at 270 Centre Street in Boston. Upon the inspection of the jobsite, where Trainor was replacing a water main, OSHA found that a 7-7 1/2 foot trench had inadequate protection against collapse and lacked the needed bracing for an unsupported concrete structure next to the excavation. Furthermore, employees were not wearing reflective vests or bright clothes to protect them from oncoming vehicle traffic. The company faces a total of $29,000 in proposed fines.

OSHA recognizes trenching and excavating as one of the most dangerous aspects of construction because of the risk of cave-ins. Thus, OSHA requires that all trenches deeper than 5 feet need to be guarded and braced for potential collapse. Soil analysis is also important before digging starts. Additional hazards, such as underground power lines or natural gas, also need to be noted. Prior to workers entering the trench, it needs to be inspected by someone who is trained in trench safety. OSHA provides a complete overview of their trench safety requirements on their Trenching and Excavation page.

OSHA’s Area Director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts, Brenda Gordon, said, “An unprotected trench can become a prison or a grave in seconds if its walls cave in on workers…Employers should never allow employees into a trench until it has been effectively protected against collapse. Workers’ lives depend on it.”

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Sources:

US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Stoughton, Mass., contractor for failing to provide cave-in protection at Revere, Mass., jobsite, OSHA Regional News Release, February 25, 2011
US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Canton, Mass., contractor for failing to provide cave-in protection at Boston jobsite, OSHA Regional News Release, February 28, 2011
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