Stratton Lumber, a family-owned business in the northern Franklin County town of Stratton, was fined just over $71,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration after an employee working in the chipper room fell 13 feet and was hospitalized in June.
OSHA fined Stratton Lumber $67,000 in October for a lack of guardrail, safety net or personal fall stoppage system; not posting appropriate notifications for the hazardous area; and not ensuring that all employees received fall hazard training. OSHA penalized Stratton Lumber an additional $4,269 for not ensuring all work areas and equipment were kept clean and free of wood dust.
In all, OSHA found five violations. The agency initially proposed a fine of $142,739, its records show. The amount was lowered after a settlement conference.
The larger fine was reduced from a “willful” violation to a “serious” violation after the company agreed to invest $100,000 on identification materials and fall hazard safety improvements throughout the facility.
“During the informal conference, the employer disclosed they purchased safety equipment, and their safety committee was meeting and discussing fall hazards and training before the accident, so the willful citation was changed to serious,” Department of Labor spokesperson James Lally said.
He added the penalties were paid.
According to a Facebook post after the fall, a Stratton employee suffered severe injuries, including a skull fracture and bruising of the brain.
Company officials did not respond to requests for comment.
Stratton Lumber is one of the area’s largest year-round employers with 75 people on its payroll, according to its website. It ships as far as Wisconsin, contributing to Maine’s $8.1 billion forestry products industry.
Incorporated in 1957 by Alfred Fontaine of Lawrenceville, Quebec, the company relocated to the U.S. five years later and opened its Maine location in 1981. The company, passed down through family members, is now owned by Nicholas Fontaine.