DRACUT -- A local contractor said he will contest $55,660 in proposed fines for alleged excavation and other hazards at a work site on Prospect Street in Nashua.
The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited DeFelice Inc. with one willful citation and seven serious citations after an inspector allegedly observed a DeFelice employee working in an "inadequately guarded excavation that was more than 8 feet deep."
OSHA standards require that trenches or excavations 5 feet or deeper be protected against collapse. The alleged absence of such protection in this case resulted in OSHA issuing DeFelice a willful citation with a proposed fine of $38,500 fine. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, OSHA officials said in a statement.
In addition, DeFelice Inc. was hit with seven "serious" citations, resulting in proposed fines totaling $17,160. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known, OSHA said.
OSHA's inspection found that the excavation lacked a ladder or other safe means of exit, and that workers in the excavation were not protected against being struck by material falling into the hole. Additionally, OSHA charged that a damaged and uninspected steel-chain sling was used to lift and move materials, an employee working in the traffic zone lacked a reflective vest and employees at the site were not trained to recognize and address hazards.
DeFelice Inc. has until Jan. 22 to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, according to Ted Fitzgerald, an OSHA spokesman.
DeFelice Inc. owner George DeFelice said in a phone interview Tuesday that the three-year-old, union-staffed company intended to contest the allegations.
The incident occurred on June 27, according to Fitzgerald, adding that the company was separating sewer and storm drains for the city of Nashua.