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Region 3 News Release: III-02-08-08-098-PA
Date: Thurs., Aug. 8, 2002
Contact: Leni Uddyback-Fortson
Phone: (215) 861-5102
Faces More Than $136,000 In Proposed Penalties After Worker Fatality
POLK, Pa. -- VisionQuest National Limited, Polk, Pa., is facing $136,350 in penalties for allegedly exposing employees to safety and health hazards, the Labor Department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced today.
The company, which operates a residential rehabilitation service facility for troubled youth, was inspected in response to a complaint received after an employee made contact with a power line, received an electrical shock and fell. The employee, who was trying to cut down a pair of gym shoes that had been thrown up on the line, later died from injuries sustained during the accident.
According to John Stranahan, area director for the OSHA Erie office, VisionQuest received two willful violations, with a penalty of $126,000 and five serious violations with a penalty of $10,350. "This tragedy is certainly one that could have been avoided," says Stranahan, "By following OSHA standards, the company will eliminate the possibility of future accidents."
The willful violations include the company's allowing unqualified employees to work near overhead energized electrical lines without taking protective measures and permitting employees to use the front bucket of a backhoe as an elevated work platform.
Also cited were serious violations for unguarded machinery, the lack of a Lockout/Tagout Program (which prevents inadvertent machine start-ups), the lack of a chemical Hazard Communication Program, improper storage of compressed gas cylinders and failure to train employees in electrical safety-related work practices.
Willful violations are those committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.
A serious violation is defined as one in which there is a substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result, and that the employer knew or should have known of the hazard.
The company has 15 working days from the receipt of the citations to decide to comply, to request an informal conference with the OSHA area director, or to contest the citations and proposed penalties before the Independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
The inspection was conducted by the Erie area office, 3939 West Ridge Road, Erie, Pa. 16506-1857. Phone: (814) 833-5758.
U.S. Labor Department news releases are accessible on the Internet at www.dol.gov. The information in this release will be made available in alternative format upon request (large print, Braille, audio tape or disc) from the COAST office. Please specify which news release when placing your request. Call 202-693-7773 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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