Massachusetts Contractor Faces More Than $70,000 In OSHA Fines For Cave-In Hazards At Sewer Installation


Methuen, MA (CompNewsNetwork) - The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Baltazar Contractors Inc. of Ludlow, Mass., for alleged willful, repeat and serious violations of excavation safety standards at a sewer installation site located at Vega Road and McNeil Circle in Marlborough, Mass. The contractor faces $70,100 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection prompted by a report of potential unsafe conditions at the worksite.

"An unprotected excavation is an especially dangerous place in which to work since its walls can collapse, crush and bury employees before they can react or escape," said Jeffrey A. Erskine, OSHA's acting area director in Methuen. "That's why proper and effective cave-in protection must be in place and in use before employees enter any excavation 5 feet or more in depth. Such required protection was missing in this excavation."

Specifically, OSHA found Baltazar employees working in an excavation more than 5 feet deep that lacked cave-in protection and a safe means of egress. A protective trench box that was on the jobsite was missing required securing pins, and the unprotected excavation had not been inspected by a competent person with the knowledge and authority to identify and correct these hazards.

As a result, OSHA issued Baltazar Contractors one willful citation, with a $56,000 fine, for the lack of cave-in protection; one repeat citation with a fine of $8,400, for the lack of safe egress (OSHA has cited Baltazar in 2006 for a similar hazard at a Stafford Springs, Conn., worksite.); and two serious citations, with $5,700 in fines, for the defective trench box and lack of inspection.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for a substantially similar hazard and that citation has become final.

Detailed information on trenching and excavation safety, including an interactive e-Tool, is available on OSHA's Web site at

Baltazar Contractors has elected to contest its citations and penalties to the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. This inspection was conducted by OSHA's Methuen Area Office; telephone 617-565-8110.

Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit

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