Worker's Fatal Electrocution Leads to $119,700 Fine for Landscaping Firm

OSHA has cited Richard Kaposy, doing business as Treeman Landscaping, for safety violations following a fatal worker electrocution at a Bethel Park, Pa., worksite.

OSHA initiated an investigation April 21 when a worker made contact with a high-voltage power line while tree cutting. As a result of the investigation, the company was cited for two willful, seven serious, and three other-than-serious violations.

"This company did not take the proper precautions to protect workers faced with potential electrical hazards," said Robert Szymanski, director of OSHA's Pittsburgh's Area Office. "These violations must be abated immediately to prevent another fatality."

The willful violations were for failing to provide personal protective equipment for workers cutting in and below trees, and for ensuring that an unqualified worker did not work in proximity to an energized electrical line. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.

The serious violations include failing to conduct a hazard assessment, provide personal protective equipment training, and provide first aid supplies. A serious citation is issued when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.

The company received other-than-serious violations for failing to develop, implement and maintain a hazard communication program, maintain material safety data sheets for hazardous chemicals used by employees on site, and provide information and training to employees on the hazardous chemicals in their work area. An other-than-serious violation is one that has a direct relationship to job safety and health, but probably would not cause death or serious physical harm.

The proposed OSHA penalties total $119,700. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, ask for an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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