OSHA fines Pennsylvania contractor $331K for fatal electrocution accident
- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited a Harmony, Pennsylvania, contractor with two serious and three willful violations across two citations (here and here) and proposed fines of $331,101 after a worker died from electrocution.
- OSHA investigators said that employees of Insight Pipe Contracting LLC were making a trenchless sewer repair at a project in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, when an employee was fatally electrocuted. Two other workers were hospitalized after they attempted to help the injured employee. Among the violations on the citations are failure to institute the proper procedures for entering a confined space; neglecting to train employees on the hazards they can encounter when entering, exiting or working in confined spaces; failure to conduct atmospheric testing before allowing employees to enter a sewer line; failure to use a retrieval line; and absence of proper permits.
- Insight had 15 days from the citation issue dates of Oct. 4 to contest the citations and penalties. OSHA also added it has placed Insight into its Severe Violator Enforcement Program. The contractors placed into the program "have demonstrated indifference to their OSHA obligations by willful, repeated or failure-to-abate violations," prompting the agency to deploy more inspection and monitoring resources on those firms.
The construction industry is full of electrical hazards for all trades, not just electricians. Most skilled workers, if not all, use electrically-powered tools and equipment in their work, so it's important that everyone on a construction site know the basics about how to identify and avoid these dangers — even unskilled laborers who don't operate tools in the course of their regular duties.
Among OSHA's recommendations for basic electrical safety are:
- Have utility companies locate underground power lines before beginning work;
- Stay at least 10 feet away from overhead lines, including when using equipment or tools like aluminum paint rollers, backhoes, cranes, metal ladders and raised dump truck beds;
- If possible, de-energize both overhead and underground lines when working;
- Ground all power supply systems, electrical circuits and electrical equipment and perform frequent inspections to make sure the path to ground is uninterrupted;
- Visually inspect all electrical equipment before using it;
- Use only extension cords that are intended and marked for hard or extra-hard use;
- Ensure adequate ground fault protection by using double-insulated tools and equipment, following manufacturers' instructions for ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) testing.
Another circumstance that creates electrical hazards is when equipment is used improperly, like using indoor-only equipment outdoors, using circuit breakers with the wrong rating or trying to use a makeshift extension cord.
- Occupational Safety and Health Administration U.S. Department of Labor Cites Pennsylvania Contractor After Employee's Electrocution
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