OSHA Fines N.H. Farm $84,200 Following Teen's Death

OSHA has proposed fines of $84,200 against a Marlborough, N.H., farm where a wall collapse resulted in the death of a 17-year-old employee in early July, 2007. The teenager was working at the farm as a summer job. He and others were helping owner Mary Corbett, doing business as Corbett Creek Farm, convert an old dairy barn into a dog kennel at the time. Corbett was cited for alleged willful, serious and "other-than-serious" violations of safety standards following an OSHA inspection begun July 4.

The teen was killed when a fractured and leaning concrete and fieldstone wall fell on him while he was performing demolition work inside the barn. OSHA's inspection found that he and other employees were assigned to work within the wall's collapse zone, even though the wall presented a clearly recognized hazard. As a result, OSHA issued Corbett one willful citation, with a proposed fine of $63,000, for this hazard. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

"This case is a graphic example of what can and unfortunately does happen when basic, required, and commonsense employee safeguards are ignored," said Francis Pagliuca, OSHA's acting area director in Concord. "In addition to the fatal crushing hazard posed by the damaged wall, the individuals working in and on this barn were exposed to fall, electrical, and chemical hazards. None of the required safeguards are unusual yet they were not provided."

OSHA also issued Corbett four serious citations for lack of fall protection for employees painting the barn's roof; ungrounded electrical equipment and wiring; lack of eye and head protection for employees using saws to cut metal and wood framing; and lack of chemical hazard information and training for employees performing painting. Proposed fines for the serious infractions total $16,200.

Finally, Corbett was issued an additional other-than-serious citation, with a $5,000 proposed fine, for not informing OSHA of the employee's death within eight hours, as required. An other-than-serious violation is a hazardous condition that would probably not cause death or serious physical harm but would have an immediate relationship to the safety and health of employees.

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