Tuesday, December 10, 2013
By CRAIG CROSBY Kennebec Journal
AUGUSTA - A city builder who plans to ignore a fine levied against him for an accident that killed an employee could eventually face of the wrath of the Internal Revenue Service.
An Augusta man was killed and another injured when this Albion camp collapsed on them while they were working underneath it on May 15.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced last week that it had fined Kennebec Home Improvements $9,240 after investigating an accident in Albion in which a house collapsed on a worker, killing him.
Linwood Stover, who owns the Augusta-based company, said he would not pay the fine, the Bangor Daily News reported. His attorney, Pat Perrino of Augusta, has said Stover will likely appeal OSHA's decision.
Bill Coffin, a supervisor for OSHA's Augusta office, said his agency generally collects most fines, but there are procedures in place if companies refuse to pay. The process starts with debt collectors in Washington, D.C. If the company ignores collectors' letters, the case is turned over to private collection firms and, eventually, to the Internal Revenue Service.
"Some people turn over a leaf real quick when they get a letter from Washington," Coffin said.
The fines stem from a May 15 accident that claimed the life of Bobbie Rodriques, 54, of Augusta, who was killed when the building he was working under collapsed on him.
According to online OSHA archives, Kennebec Home Improvements was cited for 10 serious violations during a job site inspection in July 2010. Those violations included a lack of a safety guard on a table saw, lack of ground fault circuit interrupters, a lack of fall protection and more. The company was fined $6,750 in connection with those violations.
OSHA officials have said the fines were never paid. Coffin said it can take time to work through the collection process.
Stover has until Friday to appeal OSHA's most recent ruling. The appeal process would start with an informal conference with Coffin.
"I can make adjustments to the citation and penalties if they are warranted," Coffin said.
If Stover is unsatisfied after that visit, he can submit a letter contesting the ruling. Then, the case is assigned to the OSHA review commission and would be scheduled for a hearing in federal court.
"If he does nothing, then on Aug. 31 this becomes the final order," Coffin said. "At that point it's not up for review."
The accident happened at a camp on Marden Shore Road at Lovejoy Pond in Albion. Rodriques and Stover had jacked up the camp and crawled underneath to repair a post foundation. As they worked, the building fell on them.
Rodriques was pronounced dead at the scene. Stover, 55, also of Augusta, suffered back injuries. A third employee, who wasn't under the camp, called for help.
Kennebec Home Improvements was cited for three serious violations, each assessed at $3,080. Three measures weren't in place at the time of the accident, Coffin said:
• First, OSHA requires builders to provide a solid foundation for jacks, and to place wood blocks above and below the jacks.
• Next, once a building has been raised on a jack, it must be secured with cribbing or blocking.
• Last, construction companies are required to train employees to recognize and avoid unsafe conditions, and are required to conduct regular inspections, Coffin said.
"A competent person has to inspect the job site -- the materials they're using, the equipment they're using -- to make sure everything is in compliance, is in good working order and is maintained correctly. They did not have that program in place," he said.
Coffin said the $9,240 penalty is appropriate according to the OSHA field operations manual. Each of the three violations carries a maximum fine of $7,000, but the amount was reduced by 60 percent because of the company's small size. A 10 percent increase was added because the company had prior OSHA violations.
Last fall, a Monmouth company agreed to pay nearly $17,000 in penalties for safety violations after two workers died from inhaling sewer gases. In that case, the company owner appealed and then agreed to pay the fine only when OSHA amended the citation to indicate the company had provided the proper safety equipment, but had not taken steps to make sure workers used it. The company owner, and family members of one of the deceased, said the men had recently undergone refresher training on how to use the equipment.
Coffin has said that $9,240 might appear a small sum, considering someone died in the accident, but OSHA guidelines focus solely on violations, not the outcomes.
"If nobody had died at the site, and we just happened to inspect, the penalties would have been the same," Coffin said. "In other words, we don't issue citations because of a fatality. We look at the situation and any violations, and we follow our field operations manual."
Kennebec Journal Staff Writer Craig Crosby can be reached at 621-5642 or at