Wall Collapse, Worker's Death, Result in $69,000 in Fines

Three contractors in Massachussets are cited and fined following a wall collapse that kills a worker.

File this one under avoidable tragedies. Contractors ignored the need for bracing at an excavation site in Boston and a worker was killed when a wall collapsed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined the three contractors at the site $69,000 following an investigation.

OSHA cited LandTech General Contracting, of Stoughton, Mass., BC Construction Corp., of Wakefield, Mass., and Task Construction Corp., of East Freetown, Mass., for alleged willful and serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

The three contractors were engaged in a building rehabilitation project at 41-43 Winchester St. in Boston. LandTech was the general contractor and BC and Task were construction subcontractors. On May 18, 2001, a Task Construction employee was killed when a rubble retaining wall collapsed on him as he was climbing down a ladder into an adjoining excavation.

"Our inspection found that this wall, which had been damaged by earlier construction activity, had not been braced against collapse despite the fact that all three contractors knew such bracing was required for the protection of those working in the excavation," said Brenda Gordon, OSHA area director for Boston and southeastern Massachusetts. "Bracing had also not been provided for another adjoining wall and a stairway that had also been undermined by excavation operations. Supplying this critical safeguard would have prevented this accident."

OSHA is citing each contractor for an alleged willful violation for failing to provide the required bracing and is proposing a $21,000 fine against each. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Each contractor was also cited for an alleged serious violation for failing to inspect the excavation for collapse hazards and each faces a fine of $1,500 for that citation. Task Construction was cited for an additional serious violation for failing to train its employees on excavation safety and in the safe operation of excavating machinery. A fine of $1,500 is proposed. A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

edited by Sandy Smith

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