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FIRST ON 3: State fines Progress Energy for death at Wilmington plant

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WILMINGTON, NC (WWAY) -- The North Carolina Department of Labor has fined Progress Energy after a death at the company's L.V. Sutton Steam Electric Plant in Wilmington. Cory Rogers, 24, died March 15 after hydrogen gas exploded during maintenance.

The Labor Department cited Progress Energy for nine alleged serious violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina with a total penalty of $31,500.

READ THE CITATIONS (PDF file)

Civil penalties for OSH violations are included in the Occupational Safety and Health Act of North Carolina in the General Statutes. The maximum penalty for each serious violation is $7,000. The General Statutes say that the Labor Department has to take into consideration various factors such as the size of the business, the good faith and cooperation of the employer, and the history of previous violations.

The Department of Labor says penalties are in no way designed to make up for loss of life. By law, the civil money penalties collected by the Department of Labor are not the receipts of the department, but rather must be remitted to the Civil Penalty and Forfeiture Fund, which then distributes the monies to the public school systems.

Fines are issued to penalize the offending employer but also to get the attention of other employers with similar work environments.

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citation to request an informal conference with the Labor Department, to file a notice of contest with the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission of North Carolina (an independent board appointed by the governor to hear appeals of OSH citations), or to pay the penalty.

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