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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 News Release: 06-1441-BOS/BOS 2006-227
Monday, August 21, 2006
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Phone: (617) 565-2074
BANGOR, Maine -- A Stillwater, Maine, employer faces $149,500 in fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) after one of its workers suffered carbon monoxide poisoning at a Bangor residential construction project.
On Feb. 20, 2006, an employee of Sargent Corporation was working inside a manhole, using a gasoline-powered saw to cut a metal pipe, when he was overcome by carbon monoxide. The accident took place at Bangor's Old Water Works Complex at 655 Main St. The company was performing earthwork, demolition and utility work in preparation for the construction of The Shaw House residential housing development.
"While it is fortunate that this accident was not fatal, it should never have happened in the first place," said Kimberly Castillon, OSHA's area director for Maine. "It underscores why it is vital that all required precautions and safeguards be effectively in place and in use before and during any confined space entry."
OSHA's inspection found that the manhole was a confined space and that it lacked required safeguards to protect workers against confined space hazards. Specifically, the manhole's atmosphere had not been tested for toxic or oxygen-deficient atmospheres and ventilation and rescue equipment had not been provided.
In addition, excess amounts of carbon monoxide had been generated in the manhole by the use of the gas-powered saw; the manhole had not been evaluated for confined space hazards; and an appropriate respirator had not been selected and provided for the worker.
Additional hazards identified at the jobsite included no protection against a nine-foot fall into a basement; employees not trained in the demolition standard; failure to barricade a demolition pile; and failure to inspect the jobsite for hazards. As a result, Sargent Corp. was issued two willful citations, accounting for $140,000 of the fines, for the lack of testing, ventilation and rescue equipment and for allowing the saw to be operated in the manhole; and six serious citations, with $9,500 in fines, for the remaining hazards.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. OSHA issues a serious citation when death or serious physical harm are likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Sargent Corp. has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with OSHA or to contest the citations before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Bangor district office. Maine employers and workers with questions regarding workplace safety and heath standards may call the OSHA offices in Bangor, (207) 941-8177, or Augusta, (207) 626-9160.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthful workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to assure the safety and health of America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards; providing training, outreach and education; establishing partnerships; and encouraging continual process improvement in workplace safety and health. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call (202) 693-7765 or TTY (202) 693-7755. The U.S. Department of Labor is committed to providing America's employers and employees with easy access to understandable information on how to comply with its laws and regulations. For more information, please visit www.dol.gov/compliance.
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