Ill. Contractor Cited After Worker Gets Electrocuted

OSHA proposed $423,500 in fines for L.E. Myers Co. as a result of a fatality that occurred while the company was doing maintenance work on electrical transmission towers.

OSHA cited L.E. Myers Co. following a March 25 fatality that occurred while the company was doing maintenance work on electrical transmission towers in Plainfield, Ill. The proposed penalty is $423,500.

"We are deeply troubled by the history of fatal accidents at this company," said Labor Secretary Alexis Herman. "Effective safety programs can and must prevent tragedies like these. The department expects companies to take the necessary steps to protect workers in dangerous jobs. We will take appropriate enforcement action to see that they do."

Since 1972, 37 workers have been killed on L.E. Myers jobs, including 15 who were electrocuted.

L.E. Myers has 1,500 employees nationwide. No other company its size in its industry has as many facilities.

OSHA''s investigation determined that at least three of six work crews conducting maintenance work on 345,000-volt de-energized steel transmission towers were exposed to electrical hazards because of improper grounding of the electrical lines.

Although the company has identified an acceptable grounding procedure in its safety manual, L.E. Myers had not trained its crews to use the procedure.

Grounding practices actually implemented by the work crews were inadequate and not in line with current industry practice, according to OSHA.

"Because of the hazardous nature of this work, the law requires that every worker in this industry must have a thorough briefing on what hazards exist and how to do the work safely," said OSHA Administrator Charles Jeffress. "By failing to train workers and to enforce company rules on grounding, L.E. Myers exposed 32 workers to a serious hazard that cost a journeyman lineman his life and seriously injured an apprentice."

Specifically, OSHA cited the company for:

  • inadequate grounding on three transmission towers;
  • failure to discuss specific electrical hazards and proper grounding procedures at this site during the pre-job briefing;
  • and failure to maintain a minimum approach distance from electrical lines.

OSHA inspected L.E. Myers 83 times, including 37 fatality investigations.

The agency previously cited the company for similar hazards in job briefings, testing and grounding of lines, maintaining minimum approach distances and personal protective equipment.

Less than three months before the fatality occurred in Plainfield, Ill., another L.E. Myers worker who was working on the same maintenance contract with Commonwealth Edison, was killed in Mount Prospect, Ill.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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