OSHA News Release – Region 2
The Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission (OSHRC) has issued a decision affirming all safety and health citations issued by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) against Jersey City Medical Center. OSHA cited the medical center, based in Jersey City, NJ, for electrical hazards after a maintenance employee’s fatal fall after receiving an electric shock. The judge also affirmed OSHA’s proposed penalties totaling $174,593.
In June 2016, the decedent – who was untrained in electrical safety work practices – was repairing a ceiling light fixture when the incident occurred. The judge found that the employer willfully failed to train the employee for the hazardous electrical work he was directed to perform. A three-day hearing was held in New York City in April 2018, and the decision from OSHRC issued on June 17, 2019.
“The outcome of this case shows the employer will be held accountable for willfully exposing employees to serious hazards, and the U.S. Department of Labor stands ready to litigate such issues when employers refuse to accept responsibility,” said the Department’s Regional Solicitor Jeffrey S. Rogoff, in New York.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to help ensure these conditions for American working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education, and assistance. For more information, visit https://www.osha.gov.
Employer Deemed Responsible for Electrical Worker’s Death
Queensland, Australia electrical worker, Danny George Cheney, was electrocuted on December 5, 2009. His coworker, Macquin Parungao, sustained four electrical shocks while attempting to save him. The coroner had found that Cheney’s employer was to blame for his death, as he was not equipped with the proper tools to safely perform the tasks he was given. He was also found to lack the proper training for his new job position that he had been promoted to, which resulted in him not following the Activity Method Statement (AMS). If he had been given the proper training and equipment, his death may have been avoided.
Last week, coroner Kevin Priestly found the tragedy occurred because Mr Cheney’s employer, John Holland, had not adequately trained him in a new role he had recently accepted.
A month before the incident, Mr Cheney had been promoted and moved to a new project.
The coroner found while “a number of factors” likely contributed to the death, the workers did not have the correct equipment with them when the accident happened, and that Mr Cheney had not followed the Activity Method Statement (AMS) — a plan designed to ensure safety on worksites.
However, the coroner ruled mistakes made by Mr Cheney were caused by a lack of adequate training relating to his new position.
“Mr Cheney deviated from the requirement in the AMS, likely due to a number of operational factors but most importantly because of a gap in his knowledge about the difference between earthing and bonding, and the circumstances in which each is applied,” he wrote.
“Mr Cheney was exposed to different practises and procedures during his work with John Holland but had received no formal training on those matters. He had no formal qualifications that covered those matters.
“Mr Cheney adopted what he thought was an alternative method of earthing, without adequate safety equipment and in an apparent desire to get the job done. The conductors were not effectively earthed and Mr Cheney was electrocuted.”
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