AUGUSTA — A Jefferson sawmill has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration for workplace safety violations that carry proposed fines of more than $79,000.

N.C. Hunt Inc. was cited for three alleged repeat violations and seven serious violations following an inspection by OSHA’s Augusta office which began in December 2012, according to a May 6 news release from the department.

Violations included failing to use procedures to prevent employees from being struck by a logging carriage and a lack of barriers and signs preventing entry to a logging carriage path, as well as a lack of guardrails on elevated walkways.

According to the department, similar violations were cited in 2009.

“These recurring hazards exposed employees to the hazards of falls and being struck by machinery. It’s imperative that employers take effective and ongoing action to ensure that hazards, once corrected, remain corrected,” William Coffin, OSHA’s area director for Maine, said in the news release.

Other violations involved a defective emergency brake on a work truck, lack of machine guarding, an ungrounded extension cord, and incomplete energy control procedures.

Robert Hunt, vice president of N.C. Hunt Lumber, said Wednesday that the company has addressed the safety concerns and will be talking to OSHA representatives.

“We are going to an informational meeting to discuss the situation,” Hunt said. “We looked at the fines and violations. We are not disputing the things they cited. We corrected all the issues.”

He said none of the violations were life-threatening, and that the firm has employee safety committees and programs.

Hunt also said the firm was recognized in 2011 by the Northeast Lumber Manufacturers Association for the number of hours worked with no lost-time injuries.

The sawmill has been owned by the Hunt family since the 1940s.

The firm operates stores in Jefferson and Damariscotta.

Ted Fitzgerald, a spokesman for OSHA’s regional office, said Wednesday that penalties could be reduced or citations amended as part of a settlement agreement. “OSHA is looking for three things: the employer accepts citations, the employer shows violations are corrected or are in the process of being corrected, and the employer pays the fine, which may or may not be reduced as part of a settlement agreement.”

“It depends on individual circumstances whether fines are reduced,” he added.

Betty Adams — 621-5631
[email protected]

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