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Questions raised about OSHA fines

The host of the “Truth or Politics” show has raised questions about the reported OSHA fines at the County Road Department.

Darlene Price, host of the Monday evening show broadcast on WHAY, MBR TV and on the internet, states the County was fined a total of $14,000 by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration over the past year, not $7,000 as reported in a recent Fiscal Court meeting.

Price released a transcript of her questions about the fines during the February 7, 2017 Fiscal Court meeting wherein she asked for clarification on the issue based on information she had uncovered from an unidentified source.

In Judge Executive Stephens’ and Moore’s responses, both stated that the Road Department was fined twice for the total amount of $7,000 for neglecting to have an eye wash station and shower near a battery charging station. Each offense was assessed a $3,500 penalty.

According to the transcript Judge Stephens mentions the lift to Moore, but the Supervisor stated the other was the Haz Mat book, which he said was abated.

Moore further stated both issues were corrected within a few weeks of the notification of the violation.

Price submitted an open records request to OSHA, asking for copies of all interactions with the County for 2016.

The request turned up a total of four fines and six violations, not just the two discussed during the meeting.

According to Price’s findings on August 23 three “serious” violations were found at the County Road Department, resulting in two $3,5000 fines.

Those violations included a defective automotive lift, which “did not undergo Periodic Qualified Inspections…which would have uncovered deficiencies.”

The lift problem reportedly resulted in a “serious injury” to a worker, and the Road Department was fined $3,5000 for the violation.

A second fine of $3,500 also came from the lift, where it was found that splices in the wiring of the unit did not have insulation.

Additional findings of not having a proper cover on an outlet box and the use of an extension cord as permanent wiring were listed as “serious,” but no fines were assessed for those issues.

The total fine for the inspection report totaled $7,000. A check was issued by the County on September 12 to pay the penalty.

Three more issues were found during a December 6 inspection, where OSHA found there was no eye wash or shower station for emergency use near a battery charging station, and no water supply within 25 feet of the station.

Two fines of $3,500 each were assessed for the first two findings and a check from the County totaling $7,000 was issued on December 28.

Tuesday morning Judge Executive Doug Stephens commented on Price’s report, noting the County was not trying to cover anything up, but Road Department Supervisor Roger Moore only talked about the fines concerning the eye wash station and shower, and failed to mention the previous fines when addressing the question during the meeting.

“Roger (Moore) did not mention the initial fines when he was asked, he was talking about the recent one,” he said.

Stephens added Moore was able, in both cases, to ask OSHA to reconsider the amount of the fines and have them reduced from $7,000 each to $3,5000, which would have cost the County $28,000.

He also noted the fines were paid out of Road Department funds, and did not come from the General Fund.

“It is unfortunate that it happened, but we were not trying to deceive anyone,” he added.

Stephens said the issues found during the inspections were a surprise to all involved and the County is taking steps to prevent additional fines in the future.

“We are trying to be more proactive,” Stephens said, noting he has asked OSHA to look at the Transfer Station, now that the County is operating the facility, and to provide them a list of things that need to be fixed before an official inspection.

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