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OSHA citation includes first egregious violation under Biden administration

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Washington — OSHA’s recent citation of a Boston contractor includes the first egregious violation issued under the Biden administration, acting agency administrator Jim Frederick confirmed Aug. 18.

Speaking during a conference call with reporters, Frederick and Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA’s acting regional administrator in Boston, detailed a Feb. 24 incident in which two employees working at a Boston excavation site suffered fatal injuries when a dump truck driving in reverse struck them and pushed them into an unprotected trench.

OSHA proposed $1,350,884 in penalties against Atlantic Coast Utilities LLC/Advanced Utilities Inc., stemming from 28 willful, repeat, serious and other-than-serious violations. The agency concluded that the company neglected to provide training to avoid work-related hazards and failed to conduct worksite inspections related to hazard recognition.

According to an agency press release, OSHA has inspected Atlantic Coast Utilities and owner Laurence Moloney – as well as his predecessor and successor companies – multiple times. Moloney and his organizations have routinely ignored OSHA citations and demands to abate hazards, the agency claims.

During the conference call, Frederick said the incidents date to 2001. The history of violations permitted OSHA to use its egregious citation policy, allowing the agency to propose separate penalties for each violation.

“Employers who skirt the law time after time and willingly endanger the lives of their workers are scofflaws,” Frederick said. “Trust that the Department of Labor is here to hold bad actors accountable.”

 

Frederick added that the monetary amount of the proposed fines doesn’t reflect an agency endeavor to be stronger on penalties, but rather to remain consistent, “be it in Boston or anywhere else.”

He continued: “Our intent, our purpose of enforcement is to lead employers to providing safe workplaces. So penalties aside, we want to make certain that the hazards are abated, corrected, and workplace safety and health is improved. Our penalty structure is set for us, and we follow that process to the best of our ability, utilizing the tools that we have available to make certain that we’re able to fully assess and address those items in front of us.”

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