OSHA: Failure To Ground Power Lines Contributed to Worker Death

An electrical contractor's failure to ensure that power lines were properly grounded contributed to the electrocution death of an employee at TVA's Crossville Substation, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

On April 2, an employee, working from an elevated basket, was electrocuted when he came in contact with an ungrounded incoming power line energized by a buildup of induced voltage. The agency's inspection of the fatality led to a settlement in which L.E. Myers Company agreed to pay $105,000 in OSHA penalties and committed to safety improvements at job sites throughout the southeast.

"This tragedy could have been avoided if the employer had simply left the grounds in place until all site work was completed in the substation," said Ron McGill, OSHA's Nashville area director. "Management at L.E. Myers was fully aware of OSHA requirements. Yet, workers were exposed to electrocution hazards and had not been trained in proper procedure and protection."

In addition to paying the OSHA fine, L.E. Myers has hired a vice-president of safety and health with significant safety and health experience in the electrical transmission industry. Under the agreement, the company will also implement a comprehensive safety and health program, including accountability provisions and safety training for employees.

L.E. Myers, based in Rolling Meadows, Ill., employs nearly 1,200 workers, eight of whom were on the Crossville TVA site.

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