Firm fined $8K after death at Deerfield Wind site

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SEARSBURG — A Maine-based construction firm will pay state regulators $8,000 in fines for safety violations found after the death of a man at the Deerfield Wind work site last spring.

David Sprague, of Windham, Maine, was 59 years old when he was electrocuted at the Putnam Road construction site on April 18.

An investigation by the Vermont Occupational Safety and Health Administration into Reed & Reed Inc, a Woolwich, Maine-based company, closed on Monday, according to VOSHA's website. The investigation found two "serious" violations related to equipment traveling under or near power lines.

VOSHA initially issued five citations and proposed a penalty of $12,600, according to Stephen Monahan, director of the state Department of Labor's Workers' Compensation and Safety Division.

"After an informal settlement conference, VOSHA agreed to delete three citations as possibly duplicative and reduced the penalty to $8,000 for the remaining two citations," he wrote in an email Friday. "The employer was also required to undertake measures to prevent this type of hazard in the future, including increased training of staff."

Sprague was moving a crane toward the construction site at about 10 a.m. when it passed under several overhead power lines, according to the VOSHA investigation summary. As the crane passed underneath the power lines, it came into contact with one of them.

Sprague "stopped and jumped from the cab with the fire extinguisher because the tires were on fire," the report states. "The right front tire ruptured, causing the front outrigger pad to settle on the ground and energized the ground around it with 69,000 volts."

According to the report, Sprague "moved around the tire to put out the fire, and was electrocuted when he stood on the energized ground."

The 15-turbine wind power project on Green Mountain National Forest land in Searsburg and Readsboro is overseen by Oregon-based developer Avangrid Renewables.

Reed & Reed's scope of work at the project includes site work, erecting turbines, and building access roads, crane paths, turbine foundations and the operations and maintenance building, according to the company's website.

Ground was broken on the 30-megawatt project last September. It's expected to go online in early 2018.

Ed Damon can be reached at edamon@benningtonbanner.com, at @edamon_banner on Twitter and 802-447-7567, ext. 111.


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