As part of a settlement with the U.S. Department of Labor, P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., a Hyde Park contractor with a long history of violating excavation safety standards, has agreed to pay a $200,000 fine for exposing its employees to cave-in hazards. The contractor also will significantly overhaul its safety practices to minimize trenching hazards and enhance worker safety.
P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., which primarily works on underground water and sewer mains, has been cited nine times since 2000 by the department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration for violations of OSHA's trenching and excavation safety standards, most recently in 2011 at work sites in Cambridge and Framingham.
OSHA found employees working in unprotected trenches at both locations and issued citations carrying $354,000 in proposed fines. Gioioso contested the citations. The department's regional solicitor's office crafted the settlement agreement, which goes beyond simple correction of the cited hazards.
"The company will be paying a hefty fine, but more importantly, it will be investing heavily in the safety and health of all of its workers through a very significantly ramped up safety and health program," said Christine Eskilson, OSHA's counsel in the department's Regional Office of the Solicitor in Boston. "This company has now committed itself to entirely re-engineering its safety and health processes, and we intend to hold the company to that commitment."
In addition to paying the fine, Gioioso will notify OSHA of all excavation jobs to be undertaken by the company in the next three years, and allow OSHA inspectors free access to enter and inspect the work sites without a warrant, as well as provide documents related to the work being performed at the sites. Gioioso also will develop and put into effect a comprehensive safety and health program that includes an annual audit by an independent, qualified safety and health consultant. Finally, the company will develop and implement a permit system for all of its excavations that will identify and evaluate the hazards of each operation prior to digging, and specify the means by which those hazards will be controlled.
"We encourage other employers to explore and pursue this approach to better safeguard their employees against everyday work site hazards," said Marthe Kent, OSHA's regional administrator for New England.
Training Tips for Safe, Efficient Trenching
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 Andover Area Office at 972-837-4460.