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Employer’s Failure to Properly Train Employees Working in Trench Leads to Catastrophic and Fatal Consequences in Boston

The Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) recently cited an employer following a fatal Boston accident that killed two employees.  The employer was cited for “18 willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious” violations of workplace safety standards.  Generally, these standards range from providing proper safety eqhelmetuipment to employees to training workers in identifying and addressing potential hazards.

In a press release for the region, including Boston, OSHA made clear that two employees died when they were working in a deep trench, and it collapsed. Adjacent to the trench was a fire hydrant supply line, which broke as the trench collapsed and filled the trench with water quickly.

One hazard for people working in trenches is that unprotected walls can collapse suddenly, and the great force can trap and engulf individuals before they have time to react.  By shoring the trench walls, using a protecting trench box, or sloping the soil, cave-in hazards can be prevented in many cases.

According to OSHA, the employer had not provided employees with basic safeguards that would have protected employees in the event of a collapse. Nor were employees trained to recognize and avoid cave-in hazards (or other hazards). The administrator for OSHA’s New England region stated that the employer had been previously cited by the agency for the same hazardous conditions. The OSHA administrator stated that the employer knew what the necessary safeguards were but chose to ignore their responsibility to keep employees safe.

Safeguards exist to keep employees safe while working in trenches. The company and the owner who oversaw work on the day of the fatal accidents had failed to provide various safety measures. Some of these included installing a support system that would have protected employees from the fire hydrant collapsing, removing the employees from the trench, providing a ladder at all times, and providing employees with hardhats and eye protection.  The two employees died in the trench collapse, and according to the regional administrator, that could have and should have been prevented.

In connection with the deaths of the two employees killed in the trench, a Suffolk County grand jury indicted the company and its owner on criminal charges. Additionally, OSHA cited the company, proposing $1,475,813 in penalties for the violations (which include repeat violations).  In 2007 and 2012, the company had been cited for similar hazards.

An experienced Boston workers’ compensation attorney can help protect the rights of loved ones who have suffered from injuries at work or aggravated medical conditions in the workplace. At Pulgini & Norton, we advocate on behalf of workers who are seeking the compensation to which they are legally entitled.  We provide a confidential, free consultation with a workers’ compensation attorney. Call our office at (781) 843-2200 or complete our online form.

More Blog Posts:

Massachusetts Seafood Wholesaler Cited by Federal Agency for Serious Violations that Fatally Injured Employee and Exposed Employees to Risk of Harm, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, January 19, 2017

Gutter Firm Cited by OSHA for Repeat Violations After Massachusetts Worker Falls and Suffers Severe Injuries, Massachusetts Workers’ Compensation Lawyer Blog, February 16, 2017

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