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US Labor Department's OSHA cites Black Hills Corp., doing business as
Black Hills Energy, in Pueblo, Colo., for exposing workers to electrical hazards
Proposed penalties total $75,000 for failing to protect workers from energized power lines
GREENWOOD VILLAGE, Colo. – Black Hills Corp., doing business as Black Hills Energy in Pueblo, has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration with two safety violations, including one willful. The citations were issued after an employee came in contact with an energized power line while making repairs and was seriously injured in July. Proposed penalties total $75,000.
Workers responding to a power interruption during a summer thunderstorm were exposed to electrical shock hazards when they entered the minimum approach distance without any protective safety measures in place. Only one of the five energized lines was deenergized while work was performed. The willful violation, with a penalty of $70,000, was cited for failing to ensure workers were protected from energized overhead electrical lines while making the repairs. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
"This situation could have easily resulted in a fatality. When workers respond to storm outages, all reasonable precautions must be taken to protect workers from electrical shock hazards," said David Nelson, OSHA's area director in Greenwood Village. "OSHA will not tolerate such negligence."
The serious violation, with a penalty of $5,000, was cited for failing to conduct an adequate briefing to inform employees of all potential hazards associated with the job, work procedures involved, special precautions, energy source controls and required personal protective equipment. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Black Hills Corp. has headquarters in Rapid City, N.D., and employs about 1,800 workers nationwide. Black Hills Energy, located in Pueblo, provides electrical and natural gas services to more than 600,000 customers in hundreds of communities throughout Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska. The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint, or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Greenwood Village Area Office at 303-843-4500.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions exist for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance. For more information, visit http://www.osha.gov.
U.S. Department of Labor news materials are accessible at http://www.dol.gov. The information above is available in large print, Braille, audio tape or disc from the COAST office upon request by calling 202-693-7828 or TTY 202-693-7755.
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