Utility Contractor Zapped with Penalty for Potential Electrocution

OSHA has cited utility equipment maintenance contractor Midsun Group Inc. with alleged serious and willful violations of federal workplace safety standards at worksites in Naperville, Ill. Proposed fines against the Southington, Conn.-based company total $50,250.

The agency began its inspection in July after receiving information that workers were exposed to potential electrocution while painting transmission poles in the Naperville area. The resulting inspection revealed nine alleged serious and two alleged willful violations of OSHA standards.

One of the willful violations addressed potential electrocution based on energized transmission lines that were not grounded. The second willful violation addressed employees working within the minimum approach distance in a bucket truck that was improperly rated for the work being conducted. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing, or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.

The serious violations included improper or untested personal protective equipment, training deficiencies, and the lack of fall protection. An OSHA violation is serious if death or serious physical harm can result from a hazard an employer knew or should have known exists.

"Over the years, we've worked hard to combat the problem of electrocution among utility line workers," said OSHA Area Director Kathy Webb in North Aurora, Ill. "We will continue to vigorously enforce OSHA's workplace safety requirements, as they have proven effective in saving lives."

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