Maine Workplace Safety Violations Result in $80K Proposed Penalties

A sawmill company in southern Maine is facing nearly $80,000 in potential fines from the Occupational Safety & Health Administration, following a host of workplace safety violations noted by inspectors.
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Our Bangor personal injury lawyers understand the inspection by federal authorities took place back in December. The three repeat violations account for nearly 70 percent of the entire fine amount.

It is truly a wonder that no one was seriously hurt. The potential is certainly still there if the Jefferson-based firm doesn’t clean up its act.

According to OSHA records, the company’s repeat violations include:

  • Failing to use energy control procedures that would prevent workers from being struck by a logging carriage;
  • Failing to post warning signs and barriers that would bar entry to the logging carriage path;
  • Lack of guardrails along elevated walkways.

These same violations were noted at the same firm during an inspection back in 2009. A repeat violation is one in which the firm has been cited by the company for the same offense within the last five years.

OSHA said that these particular offenses left workers vulnerable to a dangerous fall or even being hit by heavy machinery. The employer knew this was a problem because it had been cited before – and still failed to take corrective action.

The firm was additionally cited for four serious violations:

  • Use of an industrial truck that had a defective emergency brake;
  • No assurance of machine guarding for prevention of worker contact with the moving parts of the grinder and saw;
  • Incomplete energy control procedures;
  • Having an extension cord underground.

Any one of these could have resulted in serious injury or possibly even death of a worker, OSHA reported. The employer either knew of this danger or it should have known. The proposed penalties for these violations are about $25,500.

The firm has two weeks to comply with the standards and pay the fines or to contest the findings.

Maine has more than 100 sawmills throughout the state, and most of them appear to take safety seriously. OSHA notes that sawmill workers are in one of the most dangerous professions. They are dealing with massive, heavy materials that are frequently at risk of rolling, sliding or falling. The equipment is also hazardous, particularly if it is not equipped with the proper safeguards. Common injuries include severed fingers, lacerations and blindness. Additionally chemicals and wood dust may contribute to respiratory diseases.

Workers may also be toiling in conditions where the terrain is uneven, rough or unstable, where there is inclement weather and isolated work sites may make health care facilities less accessible than for other occupations.

If you’ve been injured, contact us at 1-800-804-2004 or read more on our website.

Additional Resources:
US Labor Department’s OSHA cites Maine sawmill for repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards, NC Hunt Inc. faces more than $79,000 in proposed penalties, May 6, 2013, News Release, Occupational Safety & Health Administration

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