BANGOR, Maine — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a North Yarmouth contractor for four alleged violations of workplace safety standards in connection with the July 27 death of a 23-year-old worker from Waldo County.
Danny Dodge of Jackson died when he was crushed by a backhoe while working on a natural gas line project on Odlin Road in Bangor. The backhoe apparently rolled down a short embankment from a section of soft shoulder. It came to rest on its side, on top of Dodge, who was wearing a hard hat.
At the time of his death, Dodge was employed by Bowdoin Excavation LLC.
OSHA, which is slated to complete its investigation into the death at the end of this month, has issued four citations, along with a total of $13,600 in proposed fines, William Coffin, OSHA’s director for Maine, said this week.
The citations are the company’s first since it was established in 2004. Though classified as serious, the alleged workplace safety violations were not deemed willful, Coffin said.
The citations, along with the proposed fines, are as follows:
• Appropriate personal protective equipment was not worn by employees in all operations where there was exposure to hazardous conditions. According to the notice issued the company, the backhoe operator was not wearing a seat belt. The proposed penalty is $4,200 for that violation.
• A synthetic web sling that had several cuts was not removed from service, $1,800.
• Construction equipment or vehicles were moved upon unsafe access roadways or grades. OSHA concluded that the backhoe overturned when operated across the slope of a 32- to 40-degree grade and proposed a $4,200 fine for the alleged violation.
• A stairway, ladder, ramp or other safe means of egress was not located in the trench excavation, $1,800.
In a telephone interview Monday evening, a representative of Bowdoin Excavation said that the company does not plan to contest the alleged violations, which she said were not directly related to the cause of Dodge’s death.
The company met with OSHA on a voluntary basis to determine if there were any steps the company could take to improve safety for its employees, said Tricia Bowdoin, who is office manager for the company owned by her husband, Eric Bowdoin.
“It was a very, very unfortunate accident,” she said, adding that Dodge’s death hit everyone in the small southern Maine company hard, especially those who were working with him the day of the accident.
She said that the company already has a range of safety measures in place, including a requirement that employees undergo a 10-hour OSHA training program as well as an excavation and safety awareness program offered through the Associated General Contractors of America’s Maine division and the Northeast Gas Association, to name a few.
The company’s workers, she said, all were up to date in terms of their qualifications and certifications, including the worker who was operating the backhoe involved in the accident.
The operator, she said, has more than 10 years of experience and holds Levels I, II and III certifications in heavy equipment operation from Associated Training Services.
“This is something we take very seriously,” she said of worker safety. “Our employees are our company.”