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OSHA News Release – Region 1
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 1 News Release: 08-1131-BOS/BOS 2008-234
Tues., Aug. 12, 2008
Contact: Ted Fitzgerald
Maine Contract Farming faces $150,000 in penalties for these and other hazards
AUGUSTA, Maine - The successor company to DeCoster Egg Farms faces $150,000 in proposed fines from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for requiring employees of the Turner, Maine, egg farm to work in and atop a building after its roof collapsed. Maine Contract Farming LLC was cited for four alleged willful and serious violations of safety standards for these and other hazardous conditions.
A section of the roof of an egg processing complex collapsed Feb. 16 under the weight of snow and ice. Maine Contract Farming directed its employees to enter the partially collapsed structure to retrieve eggs and brace the broken roof trusses and to climb atop the damaged roof to remove snow and ice. The employer did not first evaluate the building's structural integrity to determine if it was safe for entry and also did not provide fall protection for the employees on the roof.
"Those employees working inside the building were in danger of being struck by collapsing sections of its roof, walls and framing members while those employees shoveling snow and ice atop the pitched roof lacked protection against falls of up to 22 feet," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "This disregard for basic, commonsense safety procedures and employee protections is as astonishing as it is unacceptable."
For these struck-by and fall hazards, OSHA issued Maine Contract Farming two willful citations and proposed $140,000 in fines. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.
OSHA's inspection also found that employees working in other buildings on the farm were exposed to collapse hazards due to Maine Contract Farming's failure to determine each roof's weight-bearing capacity and to remove excess accumulations of snow and ice. In addition, employees operating powered industrial trucks were exposed to crushing injuries from not using seat belts while operating the vehicles.
These conditions resulted in OSHA issuing two serious citations, with $10,000 in proposed fines, to Maine Contract Farming. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Maine Contract Farming has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Augusta Area Office; telephone 207-626-9160.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing a safe and healthy workplace for their employees. OSHA's role is to promote 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. Department of Labor releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this news release will be made available in alternate format (large print, Braille, audiotape or disc) from the COAST office upon request. Please specify which news release when placing your request at 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755. The Labor Department 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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