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OSHA Cites Wind Farm Servicing Co. $378,000 after Worker Suffers Burns

OSHA issued six citations for alleged willful safety violations with proposed fines totaling $378,000 to Outland Renewable Services after a wind farm technician suffered severe burns from an electrical arc flash in October 2010. The company, a servicing and maintenance provider in the wind tower industry, disagrees with OSHA’s findings and called worker safety its No. 1 priority.

OSHA alleges that on Oct. 20, 2010, the company failed to ensure technicians working in wind farm towers affixed their own energy isolation devices – also known as personal lock and tag devices – on the tower turbine switch gear at ground level. The injured worker suffered third degree burns to his neck, chest and arms, and second degree burns to the face as a result of an arc flash that occurred when another worker unexpectedly energized a transformer.

Outland Renewable Services’ corporate offices are located in Canaby, Minn. The incident and subsequent OSHA inspection occurred at the Iberdrola Streator Caugya Ridge South Wind Farm near Odell, Ill.

Outland: Safety is a Priority
“Outland’s number one priority is the safety of our employees, as demonstrated by our strong safety record,” Steve Scott, Outland Energy Services president and COO said in a statement sent to EHS Today. “We respectfully disagree with OSHA’s initial findings but we look forward to working collaboratively with them to resolve this issue. Outland has already taken steps to ensure that an accident like this does not happen again.”

Scott added that the injured employee has since returned to work.

According to OSHA, the “egregious violations” in this case fall under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program. This program focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations in one or more of the following circumstances: a fatality or catastrophe; industry operations or processes that expose workers to severe occupational hazards; exposure to hazards related to the potential releases of highly hazardous chemicals; and all per-instance citation (egregious) enforcement actions.

“Green jobs are an important part of our economy, and sectors such as wind energy are growing rapidly. That growth comes with a continued responsibility for employers to ensure that the health and safety of workers is never compromised,” said Secretary of Labor Hilda L. Solis. “Employers must not cut corners at the expense of their workers’ safety.”

The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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