Electrocution Hazards Propel Fines Against NY Helicopter Plant

OSHA has proposed $71,000 in fines against Schweizer Aircraft Corp., for alleged willful, repeat, and serious violations of safety and health standards following inspections of the company's helicopter manufacturing plant in Horseheads, N.Y.

The agency found workers were exposed to electrocution hazards from the company's failure to first de-energize live electrical parts before having employees work on them. This situation resulted in the issuance of one willful citation, carrying a proposed fine of $55,000. OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for worker safety and health.

"Failing to de-energize live electrical parts exposes workers to swift and serious injury or death from electric shock," said Christopher Adams, OSHA's area director in Syracuse, N.Y. "This employer must ensure that the proper safeguards are in place and in use to protect workers against this and other potentially deadly hazards."

The inspection also identified several other hazards, including misused extension cords, unlabeled electrical circuits, unguarded open-sided roof areas and work platforms, lack of protective gloves, inadequate chemical hazard communication, and allowing a buildup of combustible residue in a flammable spraying area. These conditions resulted in seven serious citations, with $14,000 in fines. 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.

Finally, the company has been issued one repeat citation, with a $2,000 fine, for failing to properly record an injury on its illness and injury log. OSHA had cited the company for a similar condition in June 2008.

Schweizer 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. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Syracuse Area Office.

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