North Country
3:16 pm
Mon October 21, 2013

OSHA Claims Some Berlin Biomass Contractors Put Workers At Risk

Federal officials say six companies building a biomass plant in Berlin have put workers at risk by not following safety regulations.

The Occupational Health and Safety Administration proposes fining the companies about $280,000 for thirty-one “willful, serious and repeat violations of workplace safety standards.”

“These hazards included potential cave-ins, falls, scaffold collapse, crushing, exposure to lead and electrocution hazards,” said OSHA spokesman Ted Fitzgerald.

Fitzgerald said there were no serious injuries or deaths.

The largest fine was $116,000 against the general contractor, Babcock & Wilcox Construction Co. which is based in Ohio.

Babcock & Wilcox's first priority is worker safety and the company does not concur with the OSHA findings "but will work closely" with the agency to "resolve these issues," spokesman Ryan Cornell wrote in an e-mail.

Cate Street Capital of Portsmouth owns the Berlin facility. A spokesman did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The next step is for the federal officials to meet with the companies to discuss the citations, Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald said OSHA inspected the construction site after receiving complaints from workers.

He said the Berlin site was on a list to be inspected but the complaints triggered an immediate visit.

A 2011 review of OSHA records by NHPR showed the company rarely visited Coos unless there was a complaint.

For a list of companies and citations go here.