OSHA's Dallas Area Office began its inspection on Feb. 18 on Hidden Lake Drive in Tyler, where eight employees were upgrading underground energized power lines and pad-mounted transformers. While digging in front of a pad-mounted transformer, the employer damaged an underground power line. One of the Hispanic workers, unaware and uninformed that the power line was energized, began repairing the line and was electrocuted.
Additionally, the investigation revealed the worker was wearing a glove with a hole in the index finger that had not been tested for insulation qualities.
"All workers, regardless of whether or not they speak English, deserve a safe workplace. Had this company implemented the requirements contained in their own safety and health program, this tragedy could have been avoided," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "Ultimately, Thedford Construction failed to ensure that its workers were protected from approaching and contacting energized, high voltage electrical equipment."
The willful violations were for failing to electrically test rubber-insulated gloves at intervals not exceeding 6 months and failing to ensure that workers do not approach energized electrical equipment closer than 2 feet.
Serious violations included failing to train workers on the dangers of electrical hazards, provide prompt medical treatment in the event of serious injuries, provide a person with a valid certificate to perform first-aid treatment, provide personal protective equipment and for failing to determine the exact location of underground installations by a safe and acceptable means.
Thedford Construction, with proposed penalties totaling $133,000, has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Dallas, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.