Worker's Arc Flash Burning on SUNY Campus Leads to $88K Fine

OSHA has cited O'Connell Electric Co. Inc. of Victor, N.Y., for 14 alleged serious violations of safety standards after a company employee was burned in a May 18 electrical arc flash on the North Campus of the State University of New York (SUNY) Buffalo. The electrical contractor faces a total of $88,200 in proposed fines.

The incident occurred as O'Connell employees were performing maintenance on 34,500 volt electrical switches and transformers in the basement of Baldy Hall, OSHA said. The inspection by the agency's Buffalo Area Office found that one of the switches had not first been de-energized, as required, before employees began their work, nor had the switches been properly barricaded and tagged to prevent exposure to live electrical parts.

OSHA also determined that the injured worker and other employees had not been adequately informed about and supplied with adequate personal protective clothing. In addition, they had not been adequately trained in electrical safe work practices and in proper hazardous energy control procedures.

"This is a clear example of the grave consequences that can result when basic electrical safeguards are not provided and used," said Arthur Dube, OSHA's area director in Buffalo. "Electricity can injure and kill almost instantly, which makes it vital that power sources be de-energized and locked out, and workers be properly trained and equipped before electrical work is performed."

OSHA issues serious citations when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from hazards about which the employer knew or should have known.

"One means of preventing hazardous conditions and the accidents that can result from them is to establish an effective safety and health management system through which employers and employees work together to proactively evaluate, identify and eliminate hazards," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York.

O'Connell Electric has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, participate in an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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