Contractor Faces $148,000 in Fines Following Arc Flash Injury

OSHA has proposed $148,000 in fines against C.W. Pond Contractors Inc., a Norwalk, Conn., electrical contractor, in connection with a March 4 electrical fire at the Old YMCA at 980 Washington Blvd. in Stamford, Conn.

Two apprentice electricians were working on and around an energized 480 volt electrical distribution panel when an electrical arc flash and blast occurred, burning one of the workers. OSHA's investigation found that the panel had not first been de-energized before being worked on, as required, and the employees had not been supplied with the required personal protective equipment.

As a result of these conditions, OSHA has issued C.W. Pond Contractors two willful citations, carrying $140,000 in proposed penalties. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health.

The contractor also has been issued one serious citation, with a $7,000 fine, for not training employees on safety-related electrical work practices, and one other-than-serious citation with a $1,000 fine for an incomplete illness and injury log. Serious citations are issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

"The lethal potential of electricity cannot be underestimated. This accident could easily have resulted in a double fatality, as electricity moves--and can kill--at the speed of light," said Robert Kowalski, OSHA's area director in Bridgeport. "Due to the grave nature of these hazards, we are proposing the maximum fines allowed under the law."

Detailed information on safety issues and resources for electrical contractors is available online at www.osha.gov/SLTC/electricalcontractors/index.html.

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