OSHA levies $66,500 in fines against Illinois utility

OSHA has hit Mt. Carmel Public Utility Company in Mt. Carmel, Ill., with $66,500 in fines for violations of workplace safety standards following an investigation into the July workplace accident in which one worker died and another received serious injuries.

OSHA issued serious and willful citations to the electricity and natural gas distributor for allowing a number of unsafe practices, including an alleged willful violation for permitting employees to work on distribution lines without the required electrical grounding. Seven alleged violations categorized as serious included the company's failure to assess the workplace for job safety hazards, lack of protective equipment and clothing, failure to train or brief employees on each job and failing to have employees follow appropriate energy control procedures during the repair of power lines.

"Working with and around utility power lines is understood to be a hazardous undertaking," said Brian Bothast, OSHA's acting area director in Peoria. "Employers must take specific steps to control electrical energy prior to working near power lines to meet safety and health standards."

The company has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to appeal before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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