OSHA investigating incident involving utility worker in Texas

OSHA investigating incident involving utility worker in Texas

The United States Department of Labor is investigating a workplace accident involving a utility worker in Brazos County.

An employee of Echo Powerline doing contract work for Bryan Texas Utilities (BTU) was shocked while working on utility lines south of College Station, TX on Wednesday. He was taken by a medical helicopter to a hospital following the accident. His condition is unknown at this time.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) confirmed it is investigating the incident. Officials won’t release more details until the investigation is completed.

Click here for more from KBTX-TV

OSHA cites solar contractor almost $40,000 after fatal electrocution of one of their workers

OSHA cites solar contractor almost $40,000 after fatal electrocution of one of their workers

The agency said Wednesday that it cited Power Factor LLC for four serious violations after the employee, who has not been identified, died July 24, 3018, while installing solar panels at the base. In their findings, the agency says the employee was hoisting a metal rail that came into contact with overhead power lines.

OSHA cited the company for allowing employees to work too closely to electrical power circuits without de-energizing and grounding the circuits, or guarding the circuits using insulation or other means. Officials also said the company didn’t regularly inspect the job site or train workers to recognize and avoid hazards.

“This tragedy could have been prevented if the employer had complied with electrical standards that require maintaining a safe distance from unprotected energized power lines, training employees, and providing personal protective equipment,” said OSHA Wichita Area Director Ryan Hodge.

Click here to read more directly from the OSHA news release

NFPA reports “substantial share” of contractor deaths involving electrical incidents in the construction industry, during recent 5 year period

NFPA reports “substantial share” of contractor deaths involving electrical incidents in the construction industry, during recent 5 year period

The construction industry experienced a “substantial share” of contractor deaths involving electrical incidents during a recent five-year period, according to a report from the National Fire Protection Association.

NFPA senior research analyst Richard Campbell examined Census of Fatal Occupational Injuries data for contract worker deaths from 2012 to 2016. “Contracted worker” was defined as “employed by one firm but working at the behest of another firm that exercises overall responsibility for the operations at the site” where the fatality occurred.

Data showed that 325 electrical fatalities involved contract workers during the studied time period. In 2016, 63 cases occurred, ending a three-year rise that peaked at 76 in 2015.

Campbell notes in the report that time and budgetary pressures in the industry may cause workers to try to complete jobs faster or work longer hours – “both of which can compromise safety.”

To help reduce the number of electrical deaths and improve safety, NFPA recommends that:

  • Contractors establish reasonable expectations for when work will get done and not promise unrealistic deliverables in hopes of landing a contract.
  • Owners select contractors based on reliability and safety considerations. Contractors should do the same when selecting subcontractors.
  • Top management communicate to supervisors, whose responsibilities include both keeping production on track and ensuring work is done safely, that safety must not be compromised when schedules are threatened.

Exposure to electricity was the fifth-leading cause of work-related death for contract workers during the five-year period.

Slips, trips and falls were the leading causes of death (1,350 fatalities), followed by contact with objects and equipment (951) and transportation incidents (813).

Click here for the entire article from Safety+Health Magazine.

Contractor dies after electrical shock

MERCER, Pa. (WKBN) – A contractor working near the SCI Mercer prison has died after an electrical shock, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Corrections.

The accident happened around 8:10 a.m. Thursday outside of the perimeter of the Mercer County prison.

According to the Department of Corrections, the worker was cleaning the facility’s diesel fuel tank when the worker came in contact with a high tension wire, leading to the shock.

Click here to read more from this article

Not reporting workplace injuries is a red flag to OSHA

Questions have arisen about whether the Trump administration has weakened the OSHA electronic injury reporting rule because there appear to be few (if any) penalties tied to not reporting. That’s changed. 

First, some background on who’s been reporting injuries electronically to OSHA and the apparent (lack of) consequences for not complying.

OSHA expected about 460,000 establishments to file the electronic forms. Just under 249,000 did – a 54% compliance rate.

The consequences for not filing were minor. OSHA can only cite employers for alleged reporting violations less than six months old. And when OSHA has cited employers for failing to file forms, it’s been classified as an other-than-serious violation, the lowest category with the lowest (if any) monetary penalty.

But a consequence of not reporting has just been announced in OSHA’s new Site-Specific Targeting (SST) Program. OSHA will target high injury rate establishments in manufacturing and non-manufacturing sectors (but not construction).

Reason not to report, right? Not necessarily, because OSHA will also inspect employers the agency believes should have provided Form 300A data electronically, but didn’t for calendar year 2016 injuries.

Therefore not reporting may actually increase a facility’s chance of getting visited by an OSHA inspector.

OSHA says in its announcement about the new SST, “Inclusion of these non-responding employers is intended to discourage employers from not reporting injury and illness information in order to avoid inspection.”

Also, if a facility is inspected, it would be comprehensive in scope. The OSHA Area Office Director would decide whether to conduct a safety or health inspection depending on the nature of the business. It could be both safety and health if a site has been inspected previously.

Click here to read more from this article by Fred Hosier of Safety News Alert. See below for the OSHA requirements on filing electronic forms:

Who: Establishments with 250 or more employees that are currently required to keep OSHA injury and illness records, and establishments with 20-249 employees that are classified in certain industries with historically high rates of occupational injuries and illnesses.

If employers in State Plan states have questions about their obligation to submit injury and illness information, please contact your State Plan office.

What: Covered establishments must electronically submit information from their 2017 OSHA Form 300A.

When: In 2018, covered establishments must submit information from their completed 2017 Form 300A by July 1, 2018. Beginning in 2019 and every year thereafter, covered establishments must submit the information by March 2.

How: OSHA will provide a secure website that offers three options for data submission. First, users will be able to manually enter data into a web form. Second, users will be able to upload a CSV file to process single or multiple establishments at the same time. Last, users of automated recordkeeping systems will have the ability to transmit data electronically via an API (application programming interface). We will provide status updates and related information here as it becomes available.