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OSHA fines Hanover turbine contractor for violations

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited the contractor constructing Hanover’s wind turbine for two violations stemming from the agency’s investigation of a Dec. 14 incident at the site.

Specifically, OSHA said the size of the openings on a platform where turbine workers stand high on the tower was considered too wide. The second violation was because bolts were missing from multiple places on the turbine ladder.

The two fines totaled $3,080 but the contractor, Lumus Construction of Wilmington, settled with OSHA for $2,420.

On Dec. 14 of last year Ernest Ray was working on the tower when he fell 24 feet into the turbine. Multiple rescue agencies worked to get Ray to the ground and transport him to South Shore Hospital.

Ray’s injury sparked the OSHA investigation, which led to the discovered violations. However, Andre Bowser, a spokesman for OSHA, made clear that the contractor was not being cited for the injury itself.

“The company is not at fault for the injury,” said Bowser. “The fines are not related to the injury.”

Sumul Shah, president of Lumus, emphasized that Ray was wearing the proper safety gear at the time of the accident.

“It could have been worse,” he said. “He was wearing a harness.”

When a company has workers on platforms higher than six feet off the ground, OSHA rules state “personal fall arrest systems, covers, or guardrail systems erected” need to be around any hole or opening. That way, workers won’t be in danger of falling. In this case, the safety systems were provided but the spaces in the platform were considered too wide. This led to the first fine.

Shah said the second problem involved “splice plates,” which hold two sections of the ladder together. He said the plates were missing bolts. In one example he said there were supposed to be eight bolts, but the plate only had six.

Shah said the fines came over “little problems,” not major issues.

With the violations acknowledged and the fines paid, the May 16 OSHA report comes out with the turbine nearly complete.

Final tests are now being run to make sure no additional problems occur.