Risk of workplace injury: OSHA fines Massachusetts company $200k

A workplace injury can occur at just about any job site in Massachusetts. However, the chances for a serious workplace injury are increased when an employer ignores safety guidelines in the face of multiple OSHA investigations. One employer identified as a recidivist offender has now agreed to pay a $200,000 fine to OSHA as well as to completely revamp its safety guidelines and procedures.

The company focuses on work involving underground sewer and water mains and has received nine OSHA citations over the past 12 years. The principal cause for concern is that workers are said to be exposed to risk of a workplace injury due to cave-in hazards. The latest violations involved two projects in the metropolitan Boston area, and OSHA originally issued fines in excess of $350,000. The company contested the OSHA findings, and that led to a settlement that was recently announced by OSHA.

Under the settlement, the company will pay a $200,000 fine, characterized by a representative speaking on behalf of OSHA as hefty. The company has agreed to reconstitute its safety procedures and allow OSHA access to its excavation work sites for the next three years without the necessity of a warrant. Further, a new safety program will be developed and implemented by the company. Finally, the company also agreed to formulate a permit system which will identify workplace accident hazards for each job and implement a specific plan for addressing the dangers.

While there were no reports of any injuries suffered by P. Gioioso & Sons workers, the dangers have now been well documented. A workplace injury in Massachusetts is taken seriously, and it is a goal of OSHA’s to eliminate the potential for serious accidents. When accidents do occur, workers’ compensation benefits typically apply, giving workers important security to cover medical bills and provide lost income from work as they focus on recovery and getting back to work. In the meantime, OSHA works to limit the need for workers to have to rely on this important insurance program by avoiding unnecessary injuries in the first place.

Source: EHS Today, “Repeat Offender Settles with OSHA for Cave-in Hazards at Mass. Worksites,” Sandy Smith, Nov. 9, 2012

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