OSHA cited Aldridge Electric Inc. for one serious safety violation following the June 25 death of a 36-year-old worker who developed heat stroke at a job site in Chicago.
The proposed fine? Only $7,000. But as Dr. David Michaels, assistant secretary of labor for occupational safety and health has said in the past, OSHA doesn’t issue fines because people died, but because employers violated OSHA standards or failed to provide safe working conditions for employees.
Aldridge Electric was installing electrical conduit in an uncovered trench on the Chicago Transit Authority's Dan Ryan Red Line project when the worker became ill on his first day on the job.
"This worker died from heat stress on his first day on the job,” said Michaels. “This tragedy underscores the need for employers to ensure that new workers become acclimated and build a tolerance to working in excessive heat with a program of water, rest and shade. A worker’s first day on the job shouldn’t be the last day of their life.”
OSHA’s investigation found that Aldridge Electric did not implement an adequate and effective heat stress program and failed to ensure a newly employed worker was acclimatized to effects of heat and physical exertion. The worker was carrying heavy electrical conduit piping in non-shaded conditions when he collapsed on the job site. He died from his illness the following day.
The serious violation was cited for failing to implement an adequate and effective heat stress program. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about, which the employer knew or should have known.
Proposed penalties total $7,000. Aldridge Electric, based in Libertyville, Ill., is a specialty electrical contractor that employs nearly 750 workers nationwide. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
OSHA offers information and resources in English and Spanish for workers and employers on heat illness, including how to prevent it and what to do in case of an emergency. OSHA also has a free application for mobile devices that enables workers and supervisors to monitor the heat index at their work sites. The application displays a risk level for workers based on the heat index, as well as reminders about protective measures that should be taken at that risk level.