PROVIDENCE – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed $117,740 in fines against Raymond J. Cawley Contracting Inc. for cave-in hazards at a Middletown construction site.
An OSHA inspection found two workers at the 28 W. Main Road Middletown site in an 8-foot deep trench that was improperly shored to prevent the sidewalls from caving in.
The workers, who were excavating to replace a sewer line, did not have access to a sufficiently tall ladder in the event of a cave-in and were not wearing protective helmets.
“The sizable fines proposed in this case reflect not just the severity of the hazards but also their recurrence and the employer’s neglect,” Patrick Griffin, OSHA’s area director for Rhode Island said in prepared remarks.
OSHA’s fines include one willful violation at $70,000 for the unguarded trench, two repeat citations at $18,480 for the ladder and the helmets and six serious citations of $29,360 in fines for the remaining items.
A willful violation is defined as one committed with voluntary disregard to the law or indifference to workers’ safety.
A repeat violation exists when an employer has been previously cited for a similar issue within the last five years.
Serious violations occur when there is a “substantial probability” that death or serious physical harm could occur, according to an OSHA release.
“Trenches can collapse and kill people in seconds,” said Griffin. “With the onset of warmer weather, I urge contractors in Rhode Island to review their safety programs, ensure that workers are adequately trained and prevent them from entering a trench missing the proper safeguards.”
Raymond J. Cawley Contracting has 15 business days to comply, meet with OSHA or contest the findings before an independent commission.