A federal agency has cited a Medford contractor for “potentially fatal cave-in hazards” at a Chelsea sewer installation site, according to a recent release from the agency.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), part of the U.S. Department of Labor, fined Tufts Inc. $34,400 for the infraction, according to the release. Tufts Inc. knew about the unsafe conditions and failed to act, according to OSHA.
The agency responded to a complaint at the site on July 2 and observed workers installing a sewer pipe in an unprotected seven-foot-deep excavation at 30 High St. in Chelsea.
The workers lacked protection against a potential wall collapse and were also without a ladder or other safe means of entry or egress, according to the agency. Water had also begun to accumulate and potentially undermine the bottom of the excavation, while asphalt at the top of the excavation was not supported to keep from falling on the workers, the agency reports.
“These workers could have been crushed and buried in seconds without a chance to react or escape, Jeffrey Erskine, OHSA’s area director, said in a statement. “Of special concern is that this employer knew of these hazards, but did not correct them before workers entered the excavation.”
OSHA issued Tufts Inc. one willful citation carrying a $28,000 fine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, according to the agency.
Tufts Inc. also received three serious citations for $6,400. 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.
Tufts Inc. has 15 business days to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings, according to OHSA.