Electrical, Repeat Hazards Lead to Mass. Hospital's $63,000 Fine

OSHA found that some hospital employees were exposed to potential electric shock, burns, arc flash incidents, and electrocution while changing circuit breakers on live electrical panels.

OSHA has cited Northeast Hospital Corp. for alleged repeat and serious violations of electrical safety standards at its facility in Beverly, Mass. The employer faces a total of $63,000 in proposed fines following an OSHA inspection prompted by a worker complaint.

OSHA found that some hospital employees were exposed to potential electric shock, burns, arc flash incidents, and electrocution while changing circuit breakers on live electrical panels. Specifically, the employees lacked or did not use personal protective equipment while working with energized electrical equipment; electrical protective equipment was not periodically tested; electrical safety related work practices were not used; and specific procedures were not developed for the control of hazardous energy while replacing electrical breakers.

These conditions resulted in the issuance of four serious citations with $28,000 in fines. OSHA issues a serious citation 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 hospital also was issued one repeat citation, with a fine of $35,000, for failing to ensure that unused openings in electrical panels and cabinet motor control centers were effectively closed. The citation was classified as repeat because OSHA had cited the hospital in May 2010 for a similar condition. A repeat citation is issued when an employer previously has been cited for the same or a similar violation of a standard, regulation, rule or order at any other facility in federal enforcement states within the last five years.

"Electricity can kill or severely injure workers, literally in a flash. There is no margin for error here," said Jeffrey Erskine, OSHA's area director for Essex and Middlesex counties. "That's why it is vitally important for the safety and well-being of employees working with electricity that they be properly trained and equipped with effective protective equipment."

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