Employers Take Care – OSHA is Everywhere


Andover, MA (WorkersCompensation.com) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Nashua, N.H., contractor for alleged repeat and serious safety violations at a Middlesex County, Mass., utility installation work site. Newport Construction faces a total of $30,310 in proposed fines chiefly for trenching hazards at the site, which is located at the corner of Route 62 and Network Drive on the Bedford/Burlington border.

Inspectors from OSHA's Andover Area Office were driving by the intersection en route to another work site when they observed employees working in what appeared to be an unprotected excavation. An inspection was opened on the spot and the trench, which was deeper than 5 feet, was found to lack both cave-in protection and a means for workers to swiftly and safely exit the trench in the event of a collapse or other emergency.

As a result, OSHA issued Newport Construction citations carrying $28,000 in fines for two repeat violations. A repeat violation exists 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. Similar violations were cited in October 2008 at an Andover work site.

"An unguarded trench is an imminent danger situation. It can collapse and bury workers beneath tons of soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's area director for Middlesex and Essex counties in Massachusetts. "Given this employer's prior violations, it is vital for the safety and well-being of its workers that it take prompt, effective and ongoing action."

A citation with a $2,310 fine has been issued for one serious violation that involves not marking lifting slings with the maximum weight they can safely lift. When the weight limit is unknown, workers are exposed to crushing hazards if the slings are overloaded and fail while lifting a load. A serious violation occurs 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.

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

Newport Construction has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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