OSHA issued three willful violations and eight serious safety violations with proposed penalties of $189,700 following an inspection that began in March after the incident, in which the boom tip of a crane contacted an overhead power line with a carrying capacity of more than 12,000 volts. Electricity traveled down the crane through a line that was connected to the load being moved by the crane and shocked the employee on the ground, who was holding the line.
“When there are multiple companies operating together at the same site, which is often the case in construction projects, it is important that all the employers take a serious interest in the safety and health of the workers, and actively seek to prevent hazards like the ones we found here,” said Robert Vazzi, director of OSHA’s Savannah Area Office.
Piedmont Mechanical was cited for one willful violation with a $56,000 penalty for allegedly failing to determine whether any part of the crane could get closer than 20 feet to the overhead energized power line, exposing workers to an electrical shock hazard. The company also was cited for two serious crane-related violations, one with a $3,500 penalty for allegedly positioning the crane on soil that was not sufficiently secure to support its weight and another with a $2,800 penalty for allegedly failing to inspect the crane before beginning the day’s operations.
OSHA cited all three companies for safety violations involving trenching and excavation at the site. Piedmont Mechanical was cited for one willful violation with a $56,000 penalty, Jim Boyd Construction was cited for one willful violation with a $49,000 penalty and Chevron Energy Solutions was cited for one serious violation with a $6,300 penalty for allegedly exposing employees to a cave-in hazard by allowing them to work in a deep trench where the top of the trench shields were 2 to 4 feet below the top of the trench. Chevron and Jim Boyd did not have any employees exposed to the hazardous conditions; however, Chevron, which was serving as the manager of the project, was cited as the controlling employer, and Jim Boyd, which excavated the trench and supplied and installed the protective trench shields, was cited as the creating and correcting employer.
Additionally, Jim Boyd and Piedmont were cited for one serious violation each with a $3,500 proposed penalty for allegedly allowing workers inside a trench where several sections of the trench shields were not connected with spreader bars. Each also was cited for one serious violation carrying another $3,500 proposed penalty for allegedly allowing workers in a trench where several sections of the trench shields were not flush against the walls of the trench, exposing workers to “crushed-by” and “struck-by” hazards. Finally, Jim Boyd was cited for a serious violation with a $2,100 penalty for allegedly allowing workers in a trench where one section of the trench shield system was damaged.
Proposed penalties total $125,300 for Piedmont Mechanical, $58,100 for Jim Boyd Construction and $6,300 for Chevron Energy Solutions. Chevron Energy Solutions is based in San Francisco, Calif., and is a division of Chevron Corp. Piedmont Mechanical is based in Spartanburg, S.C., and Jim Boyd Construction is based in Albany, Ga.
The companies have 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with Vazzi or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.