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OSHA Proposes More Than $117K in Fines to Newport Contractor

US Labor Department’s OSHA proposes more than $117,000 in fines to Newport contractor for cave-in hazards at a Middletown work site. PROVIDENCE, R.I. –

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed fines totaling $117,740 against Newport-based for allowing cave-in and other hazards while workers were excavating at 28 W. Main Road in Middletown to replace a sewer line.

An OSHA inspection found two workers in an eight-foot-deep trench improperly shored or sloped to prevent sidewalls from caving in. Excavated materials were placed at the edge of the trench, which also lacked a sufficiently tall ladder that workers could use to exit swiftly and safely. Additionally, the workers were not wearing protective helmets, which exposed them to being struck by an operating backhoe’s bucket and the material falling out of it. Finally, the employer failed to adequately train workers to recognize hazards and to have the trench inspected by someone with the authority to correct any hazards found.

“The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect not just the severity of the hazards but also their recurrence and the employer’s neglect,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island. “Trenches can collapse and kill people in seconds. With the onset of warmer weather, I urge contractors in Rhode Island to review their safety programs, ensure that workers are adequately trained and prevent them from entering a trench missing the proper safeguards.”

As a result of OSHA’s inspection, citations have been issued for a willful violation – the unguarded trench – carrying a $70,000 fine; two repeat citations, with $18,480 in fines, for a ladder of inadequate length and a lack of protective helmets; and six serious citations, with $29,260 in fines, for remaining items. The citations can be viewed at http://www.osha.gov/ooc/citations/Cawley314920224_FINAL.pdf.

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. A repeat violation exists 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. 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. Similar citations were issued in 2008 for violations at a Newport job site.

OSHA standards require that trenches or excavations five feet or deeper be protected against collapse. Information on trenching and excavation hazards is available at http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/trenchingexcavation/index.html.

Raymond J. Cawley Contracting has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA’s toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency’s Providence Area Office at 401-528-4667.

Tom May 04, 2012 at 03:24 PM
What a business friendly climate our federal, state, and city governments create for our fluttering economy. No wonder why manufacturing has left our area for over seas.
frank macedo May 04, 2012 at 04:33 PM
why doesnt OSHA fine the city ? Ive watched them mow without wearing protective gear for years same goes for the guys not wearing helmuts while operating heavy equipment ,working for the city shouldnt be a free pass on safety
Chris Christensen May 04, 2012 at 05:02 PM
Tom, I have no knowledge of the owner of the company, but anyone without blinders know about cave in, dropped objects and the such in trenching operations of many years in the past. OSHA tried to set up certain safety regulations to protect the workers involved in such operations. If they have left the area for over seas they will continue unabated procedures that leave their workers at risk and they will blame their leaving on the government entities interference. Had the ditch caved in they would have shrugged their shoulders and let the insurance companies pay off and quickly forgotten about the workers friends and more importantly their families.
frank maloof May 04, 2012 at 06:18 PM
business friendly climate? just trying to protect workers thats all who needs a company like that jobs are gone because corp americia has a case of loving the green paper oh boy just what we need a bunch of unsafe jobs ok you go work there not me
frank maloof May 04, 2012 at 06:31 PM
big goverment didnt drive jobs away greed did keeping workers safe didnt do it greed did its all about the bottom line come on have you forgot? its the one %

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