Occupational Health & Safety

Verizon Hit with $140,700 Fine Following Fatal Electrocution

An inspection by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office found that the employee and bucket were too close to the power line, the employee had not been adequately trained, and he lacked insulated gloves.

OSHA has cited Verizon N.Y. Inc. for 10 alleged violations of workplace safety standards following the Sept. 14 electrocution death of an employee at a work site in Brooklyn. A field technician working in an aerial lift bucket was installing steel suspension strands when he came in contact with an energized power line. Proposed penalties total $140,700.

An inspection by OSHA's Manhattan Area Office found that the employee and bucket were too close to the power line, the employee had not been adequately trained, and he lacked insulated gloves. OSHA cited three repeat violations for these conditions. Verizon had been cited for similar hazards in 2007 following the death of a worker at a Providence, R.I., work site.

"Every workplace death is needless. A combination of effective training and safe work practices could have prevented this incident," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan, and Queens. "The recurring nature of some of these hazards is disturbing. Verizon must take effective action to ensure that its workers are adequately protected so that this does not happen again."

The inspection also found that the steel suspension strands had not been grounded during installation, employees were not wearing hard hats, personal protective equipment had not been inspected, and employees had not been adequately trained in safe work practices. These conditions resulted in citations for five serious violations.

Two other-than-serious violations involve an incomplete and uncertified injury and illness log.

"To prevent hazards, employers should initiate and maintain effective illness and injury prevention programs in which they work with their employees to identify and eliminate hazards before anyone is harmed," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional director in New York.

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