OSHA Fines Bristolpipeline Following Electrocution

OSHA cited Bristolpipeline Corp. and proposed penalties totaling\r\n$292,600 following an electrocution death at the company's\r\nGreensboro, Ga., plant.

OSHA cited Bristolpipeline Corp. and proposed penalties totaling $292,600 following an electrocution death at the company''s Greensboro, Ga., plant.

Just before the accident, the victim received a non-fatal shock while trying to retrieve a bucket of water from under the extruder, a machine that shapes plastic for sewer and water pipes.

A clogged pipe from the extruder drain pan was causing water to continually fill the bucket and overflow onto the floor. The worker was fatally injured on his second attempt to remove the water-filled bucket when he made electrical contact either through the water on the floor or at the extruder machine itself.

Following an inspection of the accident, OSHA cited Bristolpipeline with three willful violations, carrying proposed penalties totaling $189,000, for failure to:

  • maintain floors of work areas in a dry condition;
  • have a lockout/tagout procedure in place to ensure that machines were inoperable during maintenance and repair, and
  • properly insulate splices, joints and free ends of electrical wiring.

The agency issued willful citations in this case because the company showed "blatant disregard of OSHA regulations and indifference to worker safety," according to William Grimes, OSHA''s Atlanta-East acting area director.

OSHA alleged that, in an effort to save time and money, management allowed inadequate repairs of faulty electrical wiring and permitted employees to continue the risky practice of working in standing water around numerous electrical hazards.

"Management was aware that machine disrepair and roof leaks were causing water to drip onto machines and pool on the floor, sometimes accumulating several inches deep," said Grimes. "Workers had voiced their concerns to supervisors again and again about electrical shocks they had received. Yet, despite the company''s heightened awareness, no effort was made to abate the hazards."

Twenty-three serious citations drew additional penalties of $90,000. These included numerous electrical hazards, fall hazards, lockout/tagout deficiencies, no eye wash stations, numerous machine guarding violations and failure to protect employees from hazardous compressed air pressures.

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.

The remaining $13,600 penalty was issued for two repeat violations -- machine guarding and electrical hazards -- for which the company had been previously cited in August 2000.

Bristolpipeline, headquartered in Bristol, Ind., employs 58 of its 218 workers at the Greensboro, Ga., plant where PVC plastic sewer and water pipes are manufactured.

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

by Virginia Sutcliffe

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