OSHA Fines N.C. Contractor Following Electrocution

OSHA cited Mount Airy, N.C.-based Pike Electric Inc. for 10\r\nserious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $61,000\r\nfollowing the investigation of a fatal accident.

OSHA cited Mount Airy, N.C.-based Pike Electric Inc. for 10 serious safety violations and proposed penalties totaling $61,000 following the investigation of a fatal accident in Loganville, Ga.

According to William Grimes, OSHA''s Atlanta-East acting area director, an employee working in an elevated lineman''s bucket was electrocuted on Sept. 11 when he came in contact with a 14,400-volt power line.

"While upgrading an electrical system, this employee disconnected electrical feed," said Grimes. "When his back made contact with the de-energized primary circuit at the same instant that contact was made with the live primary conductor, the worker was electrocuted."

OSHA issues a serious citation when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result and the employer knew, or should have known, of the hazard.

"Basic safety precautions -- responsible training and appropriate protective equipment -- could have saved this worker''s life," added Grimes.

Among the serious citations issued against the company for failing to protect workers from potential hazards were:

  • failure to properly train employees on recognition and avoidance of hazards;
  • failure to ensure the employees were insulated or guarded from energized parts;
  • allowing employees to work too close to conductors without protections;
  • not assuring that an operator was at equipment controls during a stringing operation;
  • failure to properly guard belts, pulleys and chains, and
  • failure to inspect live-line tools before use, remove defective tools from service, and assure that tools had proper certification ratings.

Pike Electric does contract work throughout the South and mid-West. Prior to this inspection, OSHA and state occupational and health agencies conducted more than 80 inspections at company job sites, 26 of which were initiated because of accidents or fatalities.

The company has 15 working days to contest or comply with OSHA''s citations and proposed penalties.

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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