The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited an employer that was involved in a workplace double-fatality with new violations for exposing employees to excavation hazards. The employer faces $624,000 in new penalties for trenching violations at an East Boston, Massachusetts worksite. In August 2021, OSHA cited one of the employer’s companies with 28 violations and over $1.3M in penalties following the deaths of two workers in a trench in downtown Boston.
According to OSHA, “excavation and trenching are among the most hazardous construction operations”. The full safety requirements are contained in 29 Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) Part 1926, Subpart P, but OSHA also publishes a booklet called Trenching and Excavation Safety. Resources like this are helpful, of course, but managing to a standard is not enough.
“Good business leaders don’t just check the boxes,” says James Testo, president of EHS Risk Management, LLC. “They take a proactive approach to safety.”
Because the employer in East Boston had several severe OSHA violations, the employer met the requirements for OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program (SVEP). This program concentrates enforcement attention on employers that have “demonstrated indifference to their occupational safety and health obligations through willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations”, including but not limited to fatalities and catastrophes.