The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) contends that a Florida company's failure to protect workers from electrocution hazards contributed to two fatalities, possibly costing the company $50,250 in proposed penalties.
On Sept. 19, 2001, two employees of South Florida Yachts Inc. were electrocuted when a 35-foot-high traveling hoist they were using to remove a boat from a storage area came in contact with a 30- foot-high, 7,500 volt overhead power line.
Following an inspection of the accident, OSHA cited South Florida Yachts for one willful violation of safety standards and proposed a penalty totaling $49,000 for failing to alert workers to potential hazards and instruct them about protective measures needed to perform their jobs safely. One serious citation in connection with the inspection drew a fine of $1,250 for absence of a deflecting device or bumper on the traveling hoist to prevent a crushing accident.
"This employer knew power lines were obstructing the storage area; was aware of the height of the traveling hoist; and was familiar with labeling on the equipment warning against getting close to electrical hazards," said Luis Santiago, OSHA's Ft. Lauderdale area director. "Yet company officials took no action to remove the power lines or to alert workers to the hazard."
In 1999, in response to the high rate of construction accidents in Florida, OSHA launched the CARE (Construction Accident Reduction Emphasis) program and established special local emphasis programs - falls and electrical - to address the high accident rate attributable to these two hazards.
In fiscal year 2000, there were 37 electrical accidents in the southeast of which 20, or 54 percent, involved overhead power lines. In 2001, the number of shocks or electrocutions had dropped to 30 but power line-related accidents remained at 20, or 67 percent of the total. So far this fiscal year, seven of the 13 electrical accidents, a total of 54 percent, resulted from contact with power lines.
"Far too many Florida workers are electrocuted on the job," said Santiago. "In this case, although company officials knew the power lines were a potential threat, they took no remedial action."
South Florida Yachts employs 28 workers in boat sales, service and storage. The company has 15 working days to contest OSHA's citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
edited by Sandy Smith ([email protected])