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$7K Fine Set in 3 Electrocutions

Friday, December 5, 2014

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Federal safety authorities have issued one citation and a $7,000 fine in the deaths of three workers who were electrocuted by power lines while moving scaffolding last summer.

The accident Aug. 6 in Village Mills, TX, claimed the lives of steel worker Samuel Anderson, 20; iron worker Trevor Riddick Sr., 27; and Gary Wortman Jr., 31, whose occupation was not available.

Anderson had a son, stepson and fiancee; Riddick had a wife and two sons; and Wortman had a daughter with his fiancee.

ScaffoldAccident
NIOSH

A stick-man representation from a 2005 NIOSH investigation shows how a mason was electrocuted while working on scaffolding set too close to energized lines.

The three worked for Pro Steel Buildings, of Silsbee, TX.

Shortcut

News reports said the men had been erecting a metal building on the site. According to the Beaumont Enterprise, they were told to move the metal scaffolding they were using along one path, but opted instead for a shortcut that brought the scaffolding in contact with a 7,260-volt power line.

On Oct. 16, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued one citation in the case for a serious violation of its General Requirements and proposed a fine of $7,000. The agency did not issue a press release, as it often does in cases involving fatalities.

The citation says that Pro Steel Buildings did "not ensure that when employees move a scaffold, no part of the scaffold comes closer than 10 feet to energized power lines over 300 volts."

TrevorRiddickSr
Family via legacy.com

Trevor Riddick Sr., 27, was one of three workers electrocuted at a jobsite in August. OSHA has issued one citation in the case.

The violation was observed Aug. 6 at the worksite "where employees were exposed to electrocution when the scaffold they were moving contacted an energized power line," OSHA said,

OSHA files list the case as open, but an agency spokesman said Thursday (Dec. 4) that there were no additional "open inspections" related to the incident.

More citations could be issued "if the company violates OSHA standards in the future," the spokesman said.

By contrast, the agency fined a Boston-area contractor $70,290 for electrocution hazards in July after inspectors saw employees working unsafely around power lines. No one was injured at the site. The violation was considered willful.

OSHA noted in the Boston case that electrocution was "swift and deadly" and said the fine was "based on the employer's knowledge of the hazard."

Scaffolding
NIOSH

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health shows in an archived photo how metal scaffolding can inadvertently come in contact with high-voltage lines.

OSHA records list no other mention of Pro Steel Buildings, and no other information about the company was available Thursday. The company does not have a website, and its phone is answered by an answering service. The owner did not respond to a request for comment on the case.

'Fatal Four'

Electrocutions are one of OSHA's "Fatal Four"—the leading causes of death in construction—accounting for 8.9 percent of construction worker deaths in 2013.

Together, the Fatal Four (the others are falls, struck-by-object events and caught-in/between incidents) accounted for nearly six in 10 construction deaths in 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

An OSHA eTool on working around power lines is available here. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health also offers guidance here.

   

Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial contractors; Fatalities; Good Technical Practice; Health and safety; Metals; North America; Scaffolding

Comment from jim dolan, (12/8/2014, 11:56 AM)

What we need in construction is an "ensurance" czar. Someone should be assigned to every employee to ensure that they follow every damn rule, dictate, admonition, and law! This has " BIG BROTHER " written all over it! I say we go back and cite and fine the parents, the teachers, the religious leaders and anyone else who had spoken to these unfortunate individuals prior to the accident. More laws and fines will stop human error. Can't we just have some more laws please.


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