The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited D’Ambra Construction Company Inc. for a willful violation of workplace safety standards involving workers at a Newport site who were found installing pipes in an unstable trench 6 to 7 feet deep. The company faces a $56,000 proposed fine following a May 21 inspection.
In a press release yesterday, OSHA inspectors said they were initially traveling to another scheduled inspection when they drove by the trench work site located at Broadway and Malbone Road. They found no trench box in use and noticed that the traffic along the road caused loose debris to fall from the trench’s wall.
A willful violation is one committed with intentional disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
“The walls of a trench or an excavation can collapse suddenly and without warning, burying workers in soil and debris before they have a chance to react or escape,” said Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s Rhode Island area director. “The fact that no collapse occurred does not minimize the gravity of this hazard, nor does it relieve the company of its responsibility to ensure trenches and excavations are safe for workers to enter.”
OSHA standards require that excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. 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.
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 office at 528-4667.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.