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June 18, 2013
Contractors scorched for electrocution hazards

Workers’ lives were spared, but three contractors now face heavy fines for OSHA violations at a construction worksite in New York. Inspectors discovered workers performing concrete and crane operations close to energized, 13,200-volt overhead power lines.

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According to OSHA, the employers continued to allow workers to be exposed to electrocution hazards despite repeated cease and desist notices from the local power authority. The OSHA area director commented, “Their workers should never have been placed in harm’s way. They were fortunate not to be electrocuted.”

The citations included willful violations for each of the three contractors involved. The project was a five-story business and residential structure.

Electrical injuries consist of four main types: electrocution, electric shock, burns, and falls resulting from contact with electrical energy. Electrocution is one of OSHA’s top four construction hazards; the others are struck-by accidents, falls, and caught-in/between accidents.

OSHA advises employers to follow these basic principles to prevent electrocutions:

  • Locate and identify utilities before starting work.
  • Look for overhead power lines when operating any equipment.
  • Maintain a safe distance away from power lines.
  • Do not operate portable electric tools unless they are grounded or double-insulated.
  • Be alert to electrical hazards when working with ladders, scaffolds, or other platforms.
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