The industrial building at 977 West River Road in Waterville. The Shyft Group Duramag LLC in the industrial building is facing about $394,000 in penalties, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month. Rich Abrahamson/Morning Sentinel Buy this Photo

Management at a truck body manufacturing plant in Waterville repeatedly ignored employees’ complaints of hazards and other work-safety protocols, so the company was cited recently with nearly $400,000 in penalties by federal regulators.

The Shyft Group Duramag LLC in Waterville faces about $394,000 in penalties, according to a news release from the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration earlier this month. Formerly known as F3 MFG Inc., The Shyft Group Duramag LLC is an truck body manufacturing plant at 977 West River Road. Following an inspection Oct. 1, 2020, OSHA cited the plant for two willful and 10 serious violations.

“Our inspectors found plant employees without fall protection working atop truck bodies and others exposed to excess noise levels while steam cleaning,” said OSHA Area Director David McGuan in Augusta. “Management’s knowledge of these hazards and their failure to correct them led us to cite these conditions as willful violations.”

A representative from the company Monday directed questions to the headquarters in Novi, Michigan.

“The Shyft Group is working closely with OSHA officials to rectify issues cited during an inspection on the first day of operations at our DuraMag manufacturing facility in Waterville, Maine,” the company said in a written statement. “DuraMag represents a recent acquisition for The Shyft Group, and integration actions are underway to ensure this facility meets the high manufacturing standards we have set for our facilities worldwide. The Shyft Group is committed to workplace safety practices that protect the wellbeing of our employees and we plan a speedy resolution of the issues.”

The plant failed to protect employees against struck-by and crushing hazards from homemade attachments on auto lifts, according to OSHA. The company also failed to provide adequate training, the regulatory agency said.

OSHA spokesperson Ted Fitzgerald said employers have 15 working days after the receipt of the citations, which in this case was April 6, to formally consent to the violations by sending a written notice to the area director, or the employer and OSHA can have an informal discussion regarding the inspection for a possible settlement agreement. OSHA and the company are currently in talks.

“OSHA’s primary goal is correcting hazards and maintaining compliance rather than issuing citations or collecting penalties,” Fitzgerald wrote in an email.

The Shyft Group Duramag LLC failed to conduct a hazard assessment to determine necessary personal protective equipment and did not provide sufficient protective goggles for workers near a welding area that did not have noncombustible or flameproof shields, according to OSHA. The company also failed to establish and implement a respiratory protection program, securely anchor machines and more.

F3 MFG Inc. was purchased by the Michigan-based Shyft Group in October. The company makes aluminum truck bodies and racks.

The company moved to its current 150,000-square-foot facility in 2016. In 2018, the Central Maine Growth Council named the company as the state’s third fastest growing business and was featured in Inc. Magazine’s 2018 and 2019 5,000 fastest-growing, privately held companies article.

Shyft Duramag held a hiring event in January looking to bring on 50 more workers to keep up with growth. The company now employs approximately 260 people.

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