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Repeat Offender Settles with OSHA for Cave-in Hazards at Mass. Worksites

Nov. 9, 2012
OSHA and recidivist Massachusetts contractor P. Gioioso & Sons have reached a settlement over cave-in hazards at Cambridge and Framingham, Mass., jobsites, and the contractor has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine and significantly overhaul safety practices.

As part of a settlement with OSHA, P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., a contractor with a long history of violating excavation safety standards, has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine for exposing its employees to cave-in hazards. The contractor also will significantly overhaul its safety practices to minimize trenching hazards and enhance worker safety.

P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., which primarily works on underground water and sewer mains, has been cited nine times since 2000 by OSHA for violations of trenching and excavation safety standards, most recently in 2011 at work sites in Cambridge and Framingham.

OSHA found employees working in unprotected trenches at both locations and issued citations carrying $354,000 in proposed fines. Gioioso contested the citations. The department's regional solicitor's office crafted the settlement agreement, which goes beyond simple correction of the cited hazards.

“The company will be paying a hefty fine, but more importantly, it will be investing heavily in the safety and health of all of its workers through a very significantly ramped up safety and health program,” said Christine Eskilson, OSHA’s counsel in the department’s Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston. “This company has now committed itself to entirely re-engineering its safety and health processes, and we intend to hold the company to that commitment.”

In addition to paying the fine, Gioioso will:

  • Notify OSHA of all excavation jobs to be undertaken by the company in the next 3 years, and allow OSHA inspectors free access to enter and inspect the worksites without a warrant, as well as provide documents related to the work being performed at the sites.
  • Will develop and put into effect a comprehensive safety and health program that includes an annual audit by an independent, qualified safety and health consultant.
  • Will develop and implement a permit system for all of its excavations that will identify and evaluate the hazards of each operation prior to digging, and specify the means by which those hazards will be controlled.

“We are pleased that this employer has decided to make a meaningful commitment to safety by pledging resources and upgrading its excavation practices, as well as implementing a comprehensive safety and health program,” said Marthe Kent, OSHA’s regional administrator for New England. “We encourage other employers to explore and pursue this approach to better safeguard their employees against everyday work site hazards.”

 

About the Author

Sandy Smith

Sandy Smith is the former content director of EHS Today, and is currently the EHSQ content & community lead at Intelex Technologies Inc. She has written about occupational safety and health and environmental issues since 1990.

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