OSHA found Albanese workers installing concrete culverts in an excavation deeper than 5 feet that lacked protection against a possible collapse of its sidewalls. The excavation also lacked a ladder or other safe means for the workers to enter and exit.
OSHA had cited the company in 2009 for similar hazards at worksites in Lowell and Tewksbury, Mass. Due to the recurring nature of these hazards, OSHA issued Albanese two repeat citations, with $29,400 in proposed fines. A repeat violation is issued 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.
“The walls of an excavation can collapse suddenly and without warning, burying workers beneath 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. “The fact that no collapse occurred in no way minimizes the gravity of this hazard, nor does it relieve the company of its responsibility to ensure that excavations are effectively protected before workers enter them.”
The company also was issued one serious citation with a proposed fine of $3,000 for not removing a defective ladder from service. A serious citation is issued 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 excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Detailed information of excavation safety hazards and safeguards is available online at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.
Albanese D&S Inc. has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.