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OSHA News Release – Region 6
U.S. Department of Labor
Region 6 News Release: OSHA-04-23-DAL
Thurs., Jan. 8, 2004
Contact: Diana Petterson or Elizabeth Todd
Phone: (214) 767-4776, Ext. 222 or 221
Fatal Accident in Edinburg, Texas
CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Fairbairn Electric Inc. in Corpus Christi, Texas, for alleged violations of electrical safety standards related to a fatal accident in June. Proposed penalties total $52,500, primarily for failure to confirm that an electric line was de-energized.
Fairbairn Electric Inc. was cited with one alleged willful and 11 alleged serious violations following an OSHA inspection that began June 17. An employee working at a power distribution substation was assisting with the installation of a circuit breaker unit cabinet from an elevated airlift (bucket truck) when he grabbed an electric line. The line had not been de-energized and caused his immediate electrocution. Fairbairn Electric, an electrical installation and maintenance company headquartered in Corpus Christi, employs about 40 workers, four of whom were at this worksite in Edinburg.
"Verifying that the electrical wires were de-energized before work began on the circuit breaker unit could have prevented this tragedy," said John Giefer, area director at OSHA's Corpus Christi area office. "Employers must follow established safety standards to ensure that workers are protected."
The alleged willful violation was for failing to protect employees from electrocution by verifying the energy level of electrical parts with testing instruments. A willful violation is one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations.
The alleged serious violations included failing to provide fall protection equipment, failing to provide employees with fire resistant clothing and other protective equipment, failing to properly train employees on the hazards of energy control and failing to prevent non-qualified employees to work in areas of energized electrical equipment. A serious violation is one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Magic Valley Electric Cooperative Inc, a subcontractor from Mercedes, Texas, was also cited by OSHA for two alleged serious violations, with proposed penalties of $9,800, for failing to ensure consistent application of an energy isolation program and failing to maintain oversight of projects contracted out. The communication breakdown between Mercedes and Fairbairn allegedly contributed to the worker's death.
Employers and employees with questions regarding workplace safety and health standards can call the OSHA Corpus Christi area office at (361) 888-3420. OSHA's toll-free hotline number may be used to report workplace accidents, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers at 1-800-321-6742.
OSHA is dedicated to assuring workers safety and health. Safety and health add value to business, the workplace and life. For more information, visit www.osha.gov.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov.
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