Fla. Construction Co. Fined Following Worker Electrocution

OSHA cited Kohler Construction Co. and proposed penalties totaling\r\n$70,000 for safety violations at a West Palm Beach, Fla.,\r\nconstruction site.

OSHA cited Kohler Construction Co. and proposed penalties totaling $70,000 for safety violations at a West Palm Beach, Fla., construction site.

The company was moving power lines and installing new poles on Feb. 3 when a worker was electrocuted, according to OSHA officials.

Following the fatality investigation, OSHA issued one repeat citation against Kohler for violating OSHA standards by allowing employees to be exposed to energized electrical lines.

This is the second electrocution of a Kohler Construction employee at a Florida construction site within the past three years.

In this case, the worker was elevated in an aerial bucket, preparing to drill holes in a concrete pole, when he came in contact with a 7620 volt energized electrical line.

"Too many Florida construction workers are being killed on the job," said Jose Sanchez, OSHA''s Ft. Lauderdale area director.

In 1999, in response to the high rate of construction accidents in Florida, OSHA launched CARE -- Construction Accident Reduction Emphasis program.

The program follows extensive outreach activities with an equally extensive inspection and enforcement effort.

This year, the agency introduced two new special emphasis programs under CARE, one targeting electrocutions involving overhead power lines and the other involving falls from elevations.

"Construction is a very hazardous industry. In 1999, electrocution and fall accidents accounted for 63 percent of the total construction fatalities in Florida," said Sanchez. "This spring, we conducted outreach sessions across the state and, as a result, many contractors, unions and other interested parties have formed partnerships aimed at reducing serious construction accidents and deaths occurring in Florida."

Sanchez said, OSHA hopes to raise awareness among Florida contractors that failing to take safety precautions can result in heavy costs, both in human suffering and financial resources.

OSHA issues a repeat citation when an employer has been cited previously for a substantially similar condition and that citation has become a final order of the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

St. Petersburg-based Kohler Construction Co. employs approximately 275 workers nationwide and had about 75 employees working at the West Palm Beach site.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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