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Oregon bill calls to increase OSHA penalties for safety violations

Legislation recently introduced in Oregon would significantly increase civil penalties for safety violations that contribute to worker injuries and deaths.

Sponsored by Sen. Kathleen Taylor (D-Portland), S.B. 592 calls for fines of $50,000 to $250,000 if a willful or repeated violation caused or contributed to a worker death. For a serious violation involving a death, penalties would range from $20,000 to $50,000.

The penalty for other-than-serious violations would increase to $13,653, regardless of whether a death occurred. For willful or repeat violations not involving a death, Oregon OSHA could impose fines from $9,753 to $136,532.

Current Oregon OSHA penalties range from no specified fine for other-than-serious violations to less than $50 for serious violations, and a $100 daily minimum fine for willful or repeat other-than-serious violations, with no specific increase required in cases involving a death.

According to a report by, Oregon OSHA issued an average penalty of $620 for serious violations in fiscal year 2021. That’s more than 70% lower than the federal range of $2,325 and $3,875.

In addition, the legislation calls on Oregon OSHA, which operates as a State Plan, to inspect workplaces within a year after a death occurs. Inspections also would be required if an employer is cited for three or more willful or repeated violations within a 12-month period.

If the bill is passed and signed into law by Gov. Tina Kotek (D), the new penalties and rules will take effect immediately. At press time, two public hearings on the bill have been conducted. The legislation has been referred to the Senate Labor and Business Committee.

Click here for the article directly from the Safety + Health Magazine

Electrical incident at Stanford University in December 2022

Electrical Mishap at High-Tech Stanford Lab Disfigures Worker, Launches Federal Probe

A high-tech physics lab at Stanford University has been partially closed since federal officials began probing an accident there in late December that left one worker disfigured and hospitalized.

The electrical explosion on December 27th happened at the SLAC National Accelerator Lab, which is run under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy but is managed and operated by Stanford University. The lab sits on hundreds of acres near campus and employs 1,600 workers specializing in sciences including chemistry, biology and astrophysics.

Other accidents and workplace-safety concerns preceded the lab-wide shut down, a review of internal memos and public records obtained by The Standard found. The December incident recalls another notorious electrical accident in 2004 that led to an electrician suffering serious burns and Department of Energy (DOE) investigators accusing SLAC of routinely overlooking safety violations to keep its particle accelerator operational so it could compete with other labs.

This winter’s accident happened as the lab was trying to meet a requirement from the DOE to upgrade an X-ray laser called the Linac Coherent Light Source. Stanford was awarded the $3 billion, five-year contract for operating the project, which is billed as a “world-class discovery machine,” in October.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and DOE said its findings will be made public.

“After an initial, lab-wide pause, some electrical activities at SLAC remain on hold as the lab continues to gather facts about the incident, which DOE is investigating independent of the lab,” department spokesperson Chad Smith said.

The hospitalized electrician, who has not been identified, was struck by a high-voltage electric arc while working as part of a crew shutting down power to the lab, according to a report issued by the DOE’s Occurrence Reporting and Processing System.

Coworkers heard the electrical arc, rushed to the scene and called 911 and the lab’s emergency response team.

A DOE notice appears to place some of the blame for the accident on the electrician, saying they were working on the wrong part of the circuit. “In addition, the injured worker was not wearing the required shock hazard and arc flash hazard [personal protective equipment] at the time of the incident,” the department wrote in the notice.

The worker’s injury caused the lab to stop all high-voltage work and shut down power to seven buildings for the investigation to proceed, Lab Director Chi-Chang Kao told staff in a letter.

“News of this incident is unsettling and many of you may have questions, but I ask that we all please respect the injured employee’s privacy at this time,” Kao wrote. “Our thoughts are with the employee, their family and colleagues, with wishes for a fast and full recovery.”

But there had been several earlier incidents reported.

Two complaints were filed in April with Cal/OSHA, the state agency overseeing workplace health and safety and closed a month later. 

The California Department of Industrial Relations, which enforces the state’s health and safety rules through Cal/OSHA, could not provide detailed information about the complaints because they are confidential.


Click here for the full article directly from the San Francisco Standard

Utility worker dies in accident while trying to restore power – Repost from WCAX

Utility worker dies in accident while trying to restore power, authorities say – Repost from WCAX

HALIFAX, Vt. (WCAX/Gray News) – Authorities in Vermont say a utility worker has died while working on downed power lines.

WCAX reports the incident happened on Reed Hill Road in Halifax.

According to Vermont State Police, 41-year-old Lucas Donahue was working to restore power after trees fell on electrical wires in the area.

Investigators said Donahue was seriously injured and died at the scene. He was a worker with Green Mountain Power.

Authorities said his death has been accidental and doesn’t appear suspicious.

Click here for the article directly from WCAX

Multiple workers suffer electrical burns after Arc Flash incident in Honolulu

HONOLULU (KITV4) – Three workers with Hawaiian Electric (HECO) suffered electrical burn injuries following an incident in the area of Pensacola Street and Kamaile Street, Tuesday morning.

According to a HECO spokesperson, the men were working on an underground power line when an “arc flash” occurred, injuring the workers.

An arc flash is a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“An arc flash, is similar to like, lightning, as far as the intensity of what happens,” licensed electrician Steve Ricci explained.

“It will create a super heated situation that atomizes the copper, or the conductor, whatever the material is made out of, and that actually is an explosion.”

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reported that the men suffered second and third-degree burns in the incident. HECO tells KITV4 two of the men were taken from the scene to Straub Medical Center to be treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The third victim, according to HECO, was treated at the scene and did not need to be taken to the hospital.

The cause of the arc flash has not yet been determined.

The victims have not been identified by name, but EMS did say the victims were all men – ages 34, 36, and 56.

Honolulu Police officers shut down (HPD) Kamaile Street, between Pensacola Street and Piikoi Street, as the incident was investigated.

HECO sent KITV-4 the following statement:

“Hawaiian Electric is investigating the cause of an arc flash that injured three of our workers on a job site today. Fortunately, none of the employees suffered life-threatening injuries and we wish them a speedy and complete recovery. We spend a considerable amount time and effort at Hawaiian Electric to ensure the safety of our workers and the community and we will look closely at what caused this incident to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

According to HECO, all three of the injured employees have been released from the hospital.

Video of an arc flash in our newscasts were provided courtesy of Electrical Power & Safety Company.


Click here for the article directly from KITV 4


Cabinet Manufacturer Faces Citations After Worker Electrocuted – Repost from Occupational Health & Safety (OH&S)

Cabinet Manufacturer Faces Citations After Worker Electrocuted

The citations include violations for not using energy isolating devices, PPE and ladder use.

A cabinet manufacturer was recently cited after a worker was fatally injured.

In March of this year, a 33-year-old technician was replacing a light fixture when they “came into contact with a 277-volt circuit,” according to an OSHA news release. The technician, employed by Wellborn Cabinet Inc of Alabama, was fatally electrocuted. 

After an inspection, the agency determined parts were not checked for de-energization, and “energy isolation devices” were not used to control energy, the agency said. Other violations OSHA found relate to PPE use while “spraying coatings, paints and finishes” and ladder use. The company was cited for eight serious violations. The agency also proposed penalties totaling $115,188.

 “A worker’s family, friends and co-workers now grieve a terrible loss which might have been prevented had Wellborn Cabinet followed federal safety requirements,” explained OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris in Birmingham in the news release. “Every worker has a right to a safe and healthful workplace and every employer is legally responsible for providing one. We encourage employers to contact us with questions about keeping their employees safe.”

Click here for the article directly from Occupational Health & Safety

Worker killed in accidental electrocution at construction site

Worker killed in accidental electrocution at construction site

An industrial accident claimed the life of a construction worker on University Drive Wednesday afternoon.

The man was working with crews inside of the original Burlington Coat Factory in the University Place Shopping Center, according to Don Webster, with HEMSI.

 Robert Philyaw, was 41 years old, and he was accidentally electrocuted while he was working on the electricity at the construction site, a spokesperson from the Huntsville Police Department confirmed.

Philyaw was employed by H.C. Blake Co. Inc. OSHA is investigating this incident.


Click here for the full story from WAFF