A major sewer subcontractor working on the City’s Washington Avenue rehabilitation project is facing substantial fines this week from the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for “willful and serious” violations of safety standards while working on the City project.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, OSHA stated.
Cavalieri Construction Company of Everett was subcontracted by Marchese Construction – the lead firm on the major infrastructure project – to replace large sewer mains along Washington Avenue last spring and early this summer.
According to OSHA, Cavalieri was caught with major excavation hazards at the corner of Washington and Addison Streets during an inspection in April – hazards that OSHA said put workers in danger from cave-ins or collapses.
OSHA has proposed a fine of $40,700 for the multiple violations uncovered during the inspection.
“OSHA found that workers were not protected from cave-ins or collapses while working in a trench greater than five feet in depth, with the deepest part of the trench reaching more than nine feet in depth,” read a statement from OSHA.
The proposed penalty for that violation alone is $38,500.
The violation is all the more severe according to OSHA because it isn’t the first offense for Cavalieri – not even the first offense this year, in fact.
OSHA cited the company with a willful violation for the Chelsea worksite because a previous violation was cited in February for failing to protect workers in a trench at a Braintree worksite.
“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 of OSHA. “That no collapse occurred does not minimize the gravity of this hazard, nor does it relieve the company of its responsibility to ensure that excavations are effectively protected and therefore safe for workers to enter.”
Additionally, a serious violation has been cited with a proposed fine of $2,200 for not keeping excavated materials away from the edge of the trench. OSHA requires that such material or equipment be kept at least two feet from the edge of excavations to prevent them from falling or rolling into the excavated area. A serious violation occurs 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.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.