OSHA imposes fines of $ 1.3 million on contractors for worker death

Diving letter

  • After the death of two workers at a construction site in Boston on February 24th, the Occupational Safety and Health Agency suggested $ 1,350,884 in fines for Wayland, Massachusetts based contractor Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC / Advanced Utilities Inc., Predecessor company Shannon Construction Corp., successor company Sterling Excavation LLC and owner Laurence Moloney.
  • The two employees, 27-year-old Jordy Alexander Castaneda Romera and 33-year-old Juan Carlos Figueroa Gutierrez, were hit by a dump truck that pushed them into a eight-foot ditch, resulting in their deaths. After the incident, OSHA cited the contractor for 28 deliberate, repeated, serious and non-serious violations, according to a Ministry of Labor press release.
  • OSHA has investigated six times against Moloney, who has operated multiple companies, and has issued 14 allegations since 2001. Prior to this incident, none of Moloney’s previous companies had fatalities according to Jeffrey Erskine, acting regional director of OSHA in Boston.

Dive insight

Construction Dive turned to Atlantic Coast Utilities and Moloney via publicly available company contact information for comment, but the person answering the phone claimed it was the wrong number.

In a statement received from the Associated Press, Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC said it is evaluating OSHA’s results.

“The company will evaluate the actions OSHA is taking today and determine its next steps, including challenging any allegations of error or negligence on the part of the company,” the statement said to the AP. “It is clear that this was a tragic accident and any attempt to portray it differently is both imprecise and careless.”

First and foremost of the quotes was the company’s refusal to train Romero, Gutierrez, and other workers to identify and avoid work-related hazards, as well as Atlantic Coast Utilties LLC / Advanced Utilities Inc.’s failure to conduct inspections to either identify the hazards Find or fix, such as the risk of being hit by vehicles, crushed or trapped in an unguarded ditch, the OSHA press release said.

The severity of the violations and the repetition of citations made the proposed penalties so high, according to OSHA. The agency has also used its “egregious citation policy” in enforcement, which provides a separate penalty for each citation.

The fines are not final at this point. These companies have 15 days to comply with the fines, host an informal conference with the OSHA director of the area, or challenge the results to the Independent Occupational Health and Safety Commission.

“Two hard-working people lost their lives because Atlantic Coast Utilities put their own profits above the safety and health of workers,” Labor Secretary Marty Walsh said in the press release. “Employers’ failure to follow federal health and safety regulations aimed at protecting workers from harm is absolutely unacceptable.”

Moloney’s previous fines totaled $ 81,242, of which $ 73,542 is unpaid and used to collect debt, according to the press release. Further penalties for Moloney’s company could also be foreseen as OSHA is also investigating Sterling Excavation LLC for hazards at a construction site in East Boston. The Department of Labor’s wages and hours department is also investigating Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC for a possible violation of federal wages law.

“If I say that this is a terrible situation that we have gotten into here, I can speak about it with authority,” said Erskine during the press conference.

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