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Town receives VOSHA citation, but gets penalties reduced

PUTNEY—After a representative from the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Agency inspected the Town Garage, the town received notice of four violations, Town Manager Cynthia Stoddard said.

But because town officials, including Highway Superintendent Brian Harlow, quickly began fixing the problems, Stoddard was able to get the penalties reduced.

Stoddard told Selectboard members at their Nov. 30 regular meeting that the four violations were because: an exit route in the back of the garage was partially obstructed; access to an electrical box was partially obstructed; a rest on a bench grinder wasn’t set properly; and the town wasn’t in compliance with new labeling regulations.

The original citations were $1,785 for each violation, for a total of $7,140, Stoddard said.

Stoddard called VOSHA and scheduled an informal hearing, and got the citations reduced to $1,020 each because the town had fewer employees than the inspector initially thought.

The fees were further reduced to $2,000 total when Stoddard and Harlow reported their progress and plans to rectify the problems, which included removing the obstructions and getting rid of the bench grinder.

“We could have appealed,” Stoddard said, “but it was kind of hard to disagree with them because we did have a violation."

Stoddard requested a meeting with Wade Masure, a member of the Vermont League of Cities and Towns’ Risk Management Services Department, to check on Putney’s hazardous materials labeling to make sure the town is in compliance with regulations.

Once that task is complete, Stoddard said, she will invite a representative from the Vermont Department of Labor’s Project WorkSAFE to inspect “all the buildings and go through everything so that we make sure we’re in compliance before we get another visit."

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Originally published in The Commons issue #388 (Wednesday, December 21, 2016). This story appeared on page B4.

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