NIAGARA FALLS —
The Depew contractor hired to finish the Lewiston Road reconstruction project has been accused of "willful and serious excavation safety violations" at the site by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
In a release issued Thursday morning, OSHA announced its decision to levy fines against Accadia Site Contracting Inc. for alleged violations found at a water main site at the intersection of Lewiston Road and McKinley Avenue.
Accadia is facing a total of $84,000 in proposed fines for violations found following an inspection of the work site by representatives from OSHA’s Buffalo area office.
A release issued by OSHA on Thursday said that during a March 7 site visit agency staffers found workers in a 7-foot deep vertical-walled excavation that lacked protection to prevent wall cave-ins, and a ladder every 25 feet to facilitate a swift and safe exit from the excavation. In addition, OSHA said eight inches of water accumulated in the excavation’s bottom, increasing the likelihood of a collapse.
“An unprotected excavation can turn into a grave in seconds, crushing and burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have an opportunity to react or escape,” said Arthur Dube, OSHA’s area director in Buffalo. “These workers were fortunate—not lucky, because workplace safety must never be dependent on luck—that they were not injured or killed.”
OSHA issued a willful citation, with a fine of $70,000, for the unprotected excavation. Two serious citations, with $14,000 in fines, were issued for the water and ladder hazards. 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. 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.
Accadia has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.