May 26, 2019
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Town fined by Labor Department for safety violations

Magicpiano | Creative Commons
Magicpiano | Creative Commons
Eliot Town Hall

ELIOT, Maine — Town Manager Dana K. Lee and Public Works Director Joel Moulton are finishing up work-place safety corrective measures mandated by the state Department of Labor after an employee complaint.

At Thursday’s Select Board meeting, Lee shared a letter to the department with the board. His letter acknowledged the citation of several safety violations and a $3,500 fine by the state. Lee is requesting a “penalty discussion” with the DOL.

“Last year, we were doing some ditching, I believe one or more employees felt unsafe, took photos, and reported it to DOL,” Lee said, adding a DOL inspector spent two days in September doing an audit of safety things missing. “They came up with quite a list.”

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The first citation was for a work-site violation connected with the construction at the Main Street and Kings Highway sewer pump stations. Other citations were for not having protection from cave-ins at a drain repair site; lack of annual training on occupational exposure to bodily fluids; not offering hepatitis B vaccination to employees with occupational exposure; not having lock-out/tag-out procedures for equipment maintained by employees; not providing work-zone safety and flagger training; not training employees on trenching and excavation; not training employees with fire extinguisher use and “incipient stage firefighting;” having empty oxygen and argon tanks blocking an exit; having an open electrical breaker panel knockout; not inspecting a floor jack; not inspecting alloy steel chains used for lifting; and missing guards on a bench grinder.

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Lee said the Department of Labor allows for the amount of the fines to be used for safety training, the topic of the “penalty discussion.” He also said department inspections prompted him to invite a loss control consultant from the Maine Municipal Association to inspect town buildings for possible hazards.

“We did our own in-house inspection,” he said, adding they looked for frayed electric cords, unsafe ladders and overloaded shelves. Hazardous materials training by video is included.

Lee said he will meet with representatives of the labor department in a few weeks.

Featured photograph by Magicpiano used under Creative Commons license 4.0.

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