Failure to Protect Workers against Traffic Hazards Leads to $49,000 in Penalties

A Peabody, Mass., construction contractor's failure to safeguard workers against the hazards of high-speed traffic in a highway work zone has resulted in $49,000 in fines from OSHA.

Aggregate Industries was cited for one alleged repeat and two alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act following a Nov. 8, 2002, accident at a worksite in Burlington, Mass. Four employees were injured while removing traffic cones and road closure signs when the vehicle they were riding in was struck by passing traffic.

OSHA's inspection found that Aggregate Industries failed to follow its own work zone safety plan that spelled out how to safely remove the cones and signs and did not train the workers in highway work zone safety. The company also failed to equip the truck platform from which the employees were working with seats and seat belts.

"The necessary procedures to ensure that drivers knew these workers were on the road and could proceed with caution around them were not followed in this case," said Richard Fazzio, OSHA area director. "The result was just the type of accident these safeguards are designed to prevent."

As a result, OSHA has cited Aggregate Industries for two alleged serious violations, with $14,000 in proposed fines, for failing to follow the work zone safety plan and the lack of seats and seat belts. OSHA defines a serious violation as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazardous condition about which the employer knew or should have known.

A fine of $35,000 is proposed for an alleged repeat violation for failing to train employees. OSHA issues repeat citations when an employer has previously been cited for substantially similar violations and those citations have become final.

Aggregate Industries was previously been cited for a similar hazard in March 2001, following an inspection at an Acton, Mass. worksite.

Aggregate Industries has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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