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December 09, 2014
Host employer, staffing agency cited following electrical accident

A 24-year-old temporary maintenance employee suffered severe burns from electrical shock while on assignment at a Wisconsin distribution center. The employee came in contact with an energized electrical source and suffered electrical shock. This caused severe burns and left the employee unable to work for more than four months after the May 19, 2014, incident.

The subsequent OSHA investigation resulted in citations for both the host employer and the staffing agency that provided the temporary worker for failure to train employees in electrical safety-related work practices, including wearing electric arc flash and shock protection equipment.

OSHA cited the host employer for one willful and 10 serious safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $124,000. The staffing agency was cited for four serious violations and faces penalties of $26,000. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control and responsibility for temporary employee safety and health.

“Workers should not conduct maintenance and troubleshooting without shutting down electrical sources and wearing personal protective equipment. Those actions can prevent severe injuries like those suffered by this worker,” said Chris Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Both temporary staffing agencies and host employers must train and equip their employees properly.”

OSHA’s investigation found the worker, who had been employed for about eight months, had inadvertent contact with electrical equipment while troubleshooting an electrical failure on a heat-sealing machine. The host employer failed to implement electrical safety practices for employees, which resulted in one willful violation.

Both companies were cited for failure to train temporary employees in electrical safety and exposing workers to operating machinery parts on conveyers and press equipment. These serious violations exposed workers to electrical shock and amputation.

Additionally, the host employer failed to require personal protective equipment for employees working near exposed, energized electrical parts. The company also did not develop procedures to de-energize circuits and equipment safely or ensure stored energy capacitors were grounded.

Not sure about your safety responsibilities for temporary workers? Download BLR’s Temporary Worker Safety Checklist, free for a limited time.

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