A Massachusetts company has put its workers in danger due to unsafe work practices involving the risk of electrocution and other injuries from power lines and possible injury or suffocation due to collapsed trench excavations, according to the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
P. Gioioso & Sons, Inc. is a Hyde Park contractor that has multiple contracts with government and private customers. OSHA inspectors determined that the company’s employees were at risk of electrocution while working near live power lines at a Cambridge work site, due to their employer’s not using mandated safety measures.The OSHA inspection in May 2014 revealed that employees were moving excavating equipment onto a work site by moving it under live power lines. The employees used a long fiberglass pole that had a metal tip to lift the overhead lines, a potentially dangerous practice. As a result, the Hyde Park contractor was cited for safety violations and faces $70,290 in proposed fines.
The OSHA inspector found that, although no one was injured or killed this time, there was still substantial danger and a risk of burns or electrocution. The inspector also concluded that the employer knew that the overhead lines were energized and therefore hazardous.
P. Gioioso & Sons has been cited as well for multiple violations related to safety rules with respect to trench excavations. There were nine incidents, occurring between 2000 and 2011, when the contractor had projects to build roads and bridges, where workers were digging trenches.
OSHA had also cited Gioioso in 2011 for trench safety violation at a job site in Framingham. OSHA believed that the company knew of the hazard and therefore cited it for a willful violation with $69,300 in proposed fines. A willful violation is one committed with intent, with knowledge of the hazardous condition, or with voluntary ignorance of the hazardous condition, demonstrating a lack of concern for workers’ safety. Another violation, with a $990 fine, was for improper labeling of a trench box. P. Gioioso & Sons could, within 15 business days of receiving the citations and proposed penalties, either comply, meet with OSHA officials, or dispute the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The company’s safety record was such that, in 2011, it was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.
Surprisingly, the state of Massachusetts has hired this company, even since its achieving severe violator status, awarding P. Gioioso & Sons more than $20 million in contracts. P. Gioioso says it has worked for cities and towns across Massachusetts, and all of those communities have been satisfied with its work. However, cities and towns are not required to check contractors’ safety records. Dave Knops of the Massachusetts Coalition for Occupational Safety and Health said more needs to be done to protect trench workers.
The company claims to have learned from its past mistakes, asserting that the procedures for which OSHA cited it have been completely fixed. Furthermore, the spokesman contended that none of the company’s employees suffered any injury from the safety violations for which the company was cited. The company cooperated with OSHA, the spokesman said, improved its safety practices, and presently has an exemplary safety rating from the Massachusetts workers’ compensation system: 25 percent better than the average of all employers statewide.
For more information about the workers’ compensation system and help navigating the process, contact a Boston workers’ compensation attorney from Pulgini & Norton to schedule a free consultation to find out more about what our lawyers can accomplish for you. Contact us by email with a brief description of your situation, or reach us by phone at our Downtown Boston, Hyde Park, or Braintree, Massachusetts office locations.
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