Dec 01, 2021

New Mexico Fines Santa Fe Over Workplace Hazards at Wastewater Treatment Plant

The agency issued a report Nov. 12 stating that inspectors found multiple violations.

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The New Mexico Environment Department’s Occupational Health and Safety Bureau fined the city of Santa Fe about $32,000 for workplace safety violations at its wastewater treatment plant.

This follows two inspections of the facility, reported Santa Fe New Mexican News.

The agency issued a report Nov. 12 stating that inspectors found multiple violations, including exposed electrical wiring and slip hazards caused by leaking pumps and pipes. Santa Fe was given 15 days to pay the fine and until Dec. 2 to offer a plan to fix the violations, reported Santa Fe New Mexican News.

State inspectors discovered that bathrooms were not properly maintained, which can expose workers to biohazards. Among the other violations include: wet workrooms with substantial leaks and unlit walkways, with uneven paths creating tripping hazards at the “bottom of stairways, digester area, pump room, and in testing area,” according to the report.

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The American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees, filed a complaint against the city in May with the Occupational Health and Safety Bureau. The complaint alleges a series of dangerous and life-threatening worker safety issues at the treatment plant.

This complaint included about 45 pictures showing slipping hazards around an acid bath at the plant, as well as sludge puddles, broken effluent channel grates and open wires. Failure to address these safety violations can lead to a subsequent fine from the bureau, reported Santa Fe New Mexican News.

Among the violations includes exposed electrical wiring, which resulted in the 2019 death of city employee Tobin “Toby” Williams, 27, who died after being electrocuted while replacing light bulbs at the Santa Fe Community Convention Center.

The city was ultimately fined $120,000, half of which went toward safety training and safety improvements. Williams’ family was also paid a $500,000 settlement for a tort claim.

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