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Big Dig Contractor Cited for Alleged Safety Violations

Wed September 13, 2000 - Northeast Edition
Construction Equipment Guide

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) of the U.S. Department of Labor has cited Modern Continental Construction Company Inc., of Cambridge, MA, for alleged serious and repeat violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act as the result of the agency’s investigation of an accident on Boston’s “Big Dig” project which left a worker seriously injured. OSHA is proposing penalties for the alleged violations totaling $49,000.

According to Brenda Gordon, OSHA’s Area Director for Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts, OSHA investigated an accident on the Central Artery project that occurred on Saturday, July 22, 2000, when a shoring system angle iron cross brace slipped from a bundle being lifted out of a construction pit by a crane and impaled a worker through his skull.

“This was a tragic accident which simply did not have to happen. Our investigation found that the employees on this job were not adequately trained in the proper rigging methods, and, needless to say, employees should be kept clear of suspended loads.”

Gordon noted that employees being struck by moving materials or vehicles is one of the four leading causes of deaths in construction in the United States, accounting for 208 fatalities nationally in 1998, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Specifically, Modern Continental is being cited for the following alleged violations:

Two alleged serious violations, including proposed penalties totaling $14,000, for: failing to adequately train employees in proper rigging methods in order to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions; and failing to inspect the rigging equipment for material handling to ensure that it was safe prior to and during its use; and one alleged repeat violation, carrying a proposed penalty of $35,000, for: failing to keep employees clear of suspended loads. (Modern Continental was previously cited for a violation of this or equivalent standard on February 24, 2000.)

Gordon urged Boston and Southeastern Massachusetts employers and employees with questions regarding safety and health standards to contact the OSHA area office in Braintree.

A repeat violation is defined by OSHA as one where, upon reinspection, a substantially similar violation is found.

A serious violation is defined as one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

OSHA is empowered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970 to issue standards and rules requiring employers to provide their employees with safe and healthful workplaces and job sites, and to assure through workplace inspections that those standards are followed.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to either elect to comply with them, request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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