OSHA fines Bangor paving company $12,400 for five ‘serious’ violations in connection with foreman’s death

Posted Oct. 31, 2013, at 7:13 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a total of $12,400 in fines to a Bangor paving company for violations related to the death of an employee earlier this year.

Richard E. Thibodeau Jr., the foreman of Harvey’s Paving and Sealcoating, was struck and killed by a passing Jeep Grand Cherokee driven by Keri-Jon Wilson, then 25, of Orono. The accident was near a job site in Orono on May 7.

Wilson was not charged.

The federal agency’s investigation of the incident found five serious violations of workplace safety standards in connection with Thibodeau’s death, OSHA confirmed Wednesday.

Thibodeau, 56, of Millinocket and Carmel was part of a crew from Harvey’s Paving and Sealcoating that was finishing a paving project at Faith Baptist Church at 161 Forest Ave. around 7 p.m. when he was fatally struck. Workers and equipment involved with the church project were in or near the roadway, according to a police report detailing the investigation.

The on-the-job death sparked an investigation by OSHA, which requires that workers be provided with protection from hazards posed by moving traffic.

According to the Citation and Notification of Penalty, the company has been issued citations for five violations that were deemed serious, although not willful.

It is not yet clear if Harvey Paving will contest the citations. Steve Coffin, the paving company’s owner, declined to comment on the matter when contacted Thursday.

The alleged violations, along with proposed fines, are:

— The employee who was killed was not wearing a high-visibility traffic vest when he was struck, $2,800.

— Frequent and regular inspections of the job site were not performed by a competent person, $2,000.

— The employer did not instruct employees in the dangers of vehicular traffic and the traffic control measures to be taken for employee safety and compliance with federal standards, $2,000.

— Construction traffic signs were not posted at the eastern and western approaches to the work site, $2,800.

— Cones or other channelization devices were not used around the equipment and work area, $2,800.

Police also have determined that a lack of safety precautions by Harvey Paving contributed to Thibodeau’s death.

In a report released in August, Old Town police Officer Lee Miller, a certified accident reconstructionist, cited the following contributing factors in the fatality:

— A lack of signs or warning about the work area.

— A lack of traffic cones or flaggers to warn drivers about the people and equipment at the edge of the roadway.

— A lack of safety vests worn by employees.

The report also cited the position of the sun at the time of the incident as a contributing factor. Wilson told investigators the glare prevented her from seeing Thibodeau, according to the report.

Miller noted in his report that an Orono resident who had driven through the area shortly before and after Thibodeau was hit told investigators that he had seen paving company workers in the roadway and “was afraid that someone might get hit.”

An employee of Harvey’s for more than 25 years, Thibodeau was the company’s foreman, according to his obituary.

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