Construction Firm Cited Following Electrocution Death in Texas

OSHA has cited Tyler, Texas-based Thedford Construction Co. Inc. with two alleged willful and 10 alleged serious violations following the electrocution death of a Hispanic worker at the company's worksite in Tyler.

The agency's Dallas Area Office began its inspection on Feb. 18 at the site, where eight employees were upgrading underground energized power lines and pad-mounted transformers. According to OSHA, while digging in front of a pad-mounted transformer, the employer damaged an underground power line. One of the Hispanic workers, who was unaware and uninformed that the power line was energized, began repairing the line and was electrocuted. Additionally, the investigation revealed the worker was wearing a glove with a hole in the index finger that had not been tested for insulation qualities.

"All workers, regardless of whether or not they speak English, deserve a safe workplace. Had this company implemented the requirements contained in their own safety and health program this tragedy could have been avoided," said Stephen Boyd, OSHA's area director in Dallas. "Ultimately, Thedford Construction failed to ensure that its workers were protected from approaching and contacting energized, high voltage electrical equipment."

The willful violations were for failing to electrically test rubber insulated gloves at intervals not exceeding six months and failing to ensure that workers do not approach energized electrical equipment closer than two feet. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act.

Serious violations included failing to train workers on the dangers of electrical hazards, provide prompt medical treatment in the event of serious injuries, provide a person with a valid certificate to perform first-aid treatment, provide personal protective equipment, and for failing to determine the exact location of underground installations by a safe and acceptable means. A serious violation is one in which there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

Thedford faces proposed penalties totaling $133,000 and has 15 working days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with the OSHA area director in Dallas, or contest the citations and penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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