2013-05-03 / Community News

Excavation violation results in fine

By Michael Kelley Staff Writer

The Occupational Safety and Heath Administration has fined a Gardiner-based company for workplace violations at a job in Scarborough.

Earlier this week, OSHA proposed $76,230 in fines against Everett J. Prescott Inc. for failing to protect workers at an excavation site near Pine Point where the company was installing a large pipe.

“There was an inspection with a contractor in Scarborough and he was found to be in violation,” Bill Coffin, OSHA’s area director for Maine said on Tuesday, the day after the citation was announced. Coffin said since the case is still open, there was little additional information he could provide.

According to a news release, OSHA proposed the fine against Everett J. Prescott Inc. for “repeat and serious violations of workplace safety standards” after an inspection in March. The OSHA inspectors were going to another site when “they came a cross an open and unguarded 7-foot, 3-inch deep excavation on Pine Point Road.”

The violations include “failing to protect workers from cave-ins with an adequate protective system” and “trained supervisory personnel failed to remove workers from hazardous area until precautions could be taken.”

OSHA reports Everett J. Prescott Inc. was cited for similar violation in 2009. The release states that a repeat violation exists when a company has been previously cited “for the same or similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order” within the last five years. The proposed fine for the repeat violation is $69,300.

“Repeat excavation violations are unacceptable because they signal a recurring failure on the part of the employer to ensure that workers are safe while on the job,” Coffin said in the release. “The walls of an unguarded excavation can collapse suddenly and with great force, burying workers beneath tons of soil before they have a chance to react or escape.”

The serious violations included portable ladders that didn’t extend far enough and failing to keep items two feet away from the edge of the excavation site to ensure they don’t fall in. The proposed penalty for these serious violations, which occur 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,” is $6,930.

Coffin said on Tuesday that Everett J. Prescott Inc. has 15 days to comply, contest the findings or meet with OSHA representatives.

“Once a company receives a citation, they have 15 working days to decide what to do,” he said. “Most companies will come in for an informal meeting in the office to go over the citation.”

The company could submit a letter of contest and appear before an administrative law judge on the OSHA review council.

Everett J. Prescott Inc. was founded in Gardiner in 1955. Today the company has locations in Connecticut, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Ohio, Rhode Island and Vermont.

A call to Everett J. Prescott Inc. was directed to Safety and Training Director Ray Morang, who could not be reached for comment.

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