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

OSHA News Release: Federal investigation into fatal 2022 electrocution in Kansas City – company again failed to protect workers

OSHA News Release – Region 7

U.S. Department of Labor

Federal investigation into fatal 2022 electrocution in Kansas City finds Midwest engineering services company again failed to protect workers

US Engineering Services employees electrocuted while servicing HVAC systems in 2021, 2022

KANSAS CITY, MO ‒ A fourth-year apprentice heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician employed by U.S. Engineering Services suffered fatal electrocution after coming in contact with energized parts while repairing HVAC equipment on Aug. 24, 2022, at University Academy, a college prep charter school in Kansas City, Missouri.

A federal investigation  found the company failed to follow required procedures which would have prevented the incident, a violation cited by federal investigators in July 2021, when another company HVAC technician was fatally electrocuted while working on a rooftop air conditioning unit not drained of all its energy in Wichita, Kansas.

Specifically, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration found U.S. Engineering Services – a subsidiary of the Midwest enterprise, U.S. Engineering – failed to de-energize equipment and prevent equipment from unintentionally starting during repairs or maintenance. OSHA also found the Kansas City-based company failed to conduct hazard assessments to identify personal protective equipment needs and other requirements for field employees at contracted sites and allowed a damaged extension cord to be used at the repair site.

“This worker’s death was avoidable. Employers must follow well-known electrical safety procedures set forth in federal regulations and industry-recognized practices,” said OSHA Area Director Karena Lorek in Kansas City, Missouri. “Companies whose employees work with electricity must take all necessary steps to make sure they are protected from dangerous electrical hazards so they can return home safely.”

OSHA’s investigation found the worker was cleaning a chiller unit in the academy’s mechanical room when the electrocution happened. While the chiller’s fan motor was turned off using the building’s HVAC management system, neither a lock and/or tagout was placed on the unit control switch to ensure electrical power was drained from the coils and the air handler.

Investigators also determined neither arc flash personal protective equipment or lockout/tagout equipment was onsite at time of the incident.

OSHA cited U.S. Engineering Services for three serious and two repeat violations and proposed $197,642 in penalties. The agency identified similar violations after the July 2021 fatality. The company settled the case and paid the penalties assessed by OSHA.

U.S. Engineering Services is one of five companies held by U.S. Engineering in Kansas City. Its holdings include U.S. Engineering Construction, U.S. Engineering Metalworks, U.S. Engineering Innovations and USE Real Estate Holdings. 


Click here for the full news release from OSHA

OSHA fines company $333,560 over alleged workplace violations in accident that killed worker in Boston

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed penalties of $333,560 against Eversource Energy for workplace safety violations related to an arc flash and blast last summer that killed a 31-year-old worker.

The Eversource employees were doing maintenance work on electrical equipment in an underground electrical vault July 12, the agency said. As one employee set the equipment back into place, an arc flash and arc blast occurred. The worker, identified by Eversource as Fabio Pires, suffered severe burns and later died.

The utility did not fully de-energize the electrical equipment or follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations when employees conducted maintenance, OSHA said. It also failed to make a reasonable estimate of the heat energy to which employees would be exposed if an arc flash and blast occurred, it said.

In addition, Eversource did not adequately train employees on electrical equipment hazards, provide rescue equipment or test oxygen levels before the employees entered the vault, an enclosed space, the agency said.

“Eversource could have prevented this arc flash and blast — and its tragic outcome — by ensuring effective and necessary training, procedures and work practices were provided and followed,OSHA Area Director James Mulligan said in a release Thursday. “The company knew the hazards related to this type of high voltage equipment, yet it failed to safeguard its employees as the law requires.”

Eversource spokeswoman Caroline Pretyman said the company disagrees with OSHA’s conclusions and the characterizations of its actions. The utility “will continue to respond accordingly as this process becomes final,” she said in a statement.

“We remain deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague Fabio Pires following the tragic incident in downtown Boston last summer,” Pretyman said. “Safety is the most fundamental aspect of our everyday focus to provide reliable energy service, and we always strive to lead by example in accordance with industry best practices.”

OSHA cited Eversource for two willful and three serious violations. Eversource has 15 business days to comply and pay the fine, request an informal conference with OSHA, or contest the findings, the labor agency said.

Pires, who lived in Brockton, Massachusets, was born in Cape Verde and moved to the U.S. with his mother in 1999, according to an obituary. Trained as an electrical engineer, Pires began working at Eversource in 2016.

Click here for the original article from Utility Dive

Florida Power & Light Contractor Electrocuted in Southwest Miami-Dade

FPL Contractor Dies After He’s Electrocuted in SW Miami-Dade

A contractor for Florida Power and Light has died after he was electrocuted while working in southwest Miami-Dade Wednesday morning, officials said.

The incident happened around 9:40 a.m. in the area of Southwest 107th Avenue and Southwest 162nd Terrace. Miami-Dade Police officials said the worker was electrocuted by power lines that came in contact with his truck, which caused the vehicle to catch fire. Footage from the scene showed multiple work trucks with one severely damaged by the fire.

“I seen the guy on top of the machine doing his job. He fell down. He caught on fire —he caught on fire,” said Kshido Kahanvurrows, who witnessed the incident. “He started shaking and he caught on fire again. The other workers that work with him they ran over there to help him out.”

Miami-Dade Fire Rescue responded to treat the worker and said the worker was taken to a local trauma center, where he later died. His identity hasn’t been released.

Police spokesman Luis Sierra said they’re trying to determine how the worker, who was in his 30s, came in contact with the power line.”We do know that electricians are routinely inspecting and checking lines. The circumstances of how this happened we do not know,” Sierra said. Power lines were down in the area and traffic lights were out. Traffic was also being diverted in the area.

“I was dying of the heat and the fan was off,” said Tiffany Herrero, a resident of the neighborhood. “When I came outside I realized that there were helicopters flying everywhere and just there was essentially no power. All the neighbors were outside.”

Another neighbor, Julius Hall, looked at the scene not far from his home and commented to NBC 6 on how the morning that started out rather ordinary took such a tragic turn.

“[The contractor] went to work to provide for his family and he’s not going home and that’s very sad,” Hall said. “So, with the power going out, it’s a minor inconvenience for what that guy’s family is fixing to go through.”

“We are aware of a serious incident in Miami-Dade County involving a contractor who came into contact with a power line. Our thoughts and deepest condolences go out to the family of the individual,” FPL said in a statement Wednesday.

No other information was immediately known.

Reposted from NBC 6 South Florida, see the full story here

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