The L.E. Myers Co. said that an OSHA citation issued Monday was based on inaccurate technical findings, and that the company would appeal.
The citation was issued as a result of a March 25 fatality that occurred while the company was doing maintenance work on electrical transmission towers in Plainfield, Ill.
"We deeply regret this tragic loss of life," said William Skibitsky, president of L.E. Myers. "We understand OSHA''s role in helping maintain a safe work environment, we support its efforts, and we cooperate fully with its investigations. However, we believe that the OSHA citation related to the accident in Plainfield is based on inaccurate technical findings and not justified in its severity."
Specifically, OSHA proposed three alleged willful instance-by-instance violations for inadequate grounding on three transmission towers. The agency defines willful violations as those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and OSHA regulations.
L.E. Myers said it objects to terming the accident as a "willful" act on its part, saying that the inference that the accident was something it intended, was different to, or caused to happen was "absolutely wrong."
OSHA alleges that the company failed to train workers and enforce the company rules on grounding, which exposed 32 workers to a serious hazard and cost a journeyman lineman his life.
"Our journeyman was fully trained in safety and knowledgeable in the correct grounding procedures according to industry standards," said Skibitsky. "We will never know why he violated procedures to remove the grounding cable which he installed, but it certainly did not represent a willful act by the company."
Skibitsky noted that the company takes safety extremely seriously and has worked hard to improve its safety programs.
"The work we do can be extremely dangerous and we are totally committed to the principles of safety and safe work practices for our employees," said Skibitsky. "The company is taking additional steps to assure that our emphasis on continuos improvement in our internal safety training and results is an ongoing mission."
The proposed OSHA fine for L.E. Myers is $423,500. Skibitsky said the company believes this amount is "excessively severe" and it will appeal.
"We understand OSHA''s desire to make a statement with a large fine," said Skibitsky. "Unfortunately, a fine cannot reverse the consequences of a tragic accident, and we are focused on, and committed to, preventing a reoccurrence in the future."
The L.E. Myers Co., a specialty electrical contractor providing construction services to electric utilities, public power companies, and other commercial entities, has 1,500 employees nationwide.
by Virginia Sutcliffe