Federal Court Issues Orders for Tampa Electric After Incident Killed Five Workers in 2017

Federal Court Issues Orders for Tampa Electric After Incident Killed Five Workers in 2017

The company must make changes, pay a penalty and will face probation after a court order.

A federal court has ordered one Florida company to make changes and pay a penalty after pleading guilty to violating federal standards.

The orders to make a “safety compliance plan,” pay $500,000 in penalties and face 36 months of probation were issued to Tampa Electric Company after it “pleaded guilty to willfully violating an OSHA standard” following an incident in 2017 that injured six workers, according to the news release.

In 2017, Tampa Electric and contract workers were injured when molten slag was expelled from a furnace after a blockage “broke free.” Five of the workers were fatally injured, and one sustained serious burns.

The 2017 incident was not the first slag-related incident to cause injury to workers. Tampa Electric responded after the previous incidents, changing procedures and training. According to the news release, Tampa Electric did not “ensure those briefings took place" and pleaded guilty.

“Five workers at the Big Bend River Station electrical power plant never should have died,” said Regional Solicitor of Labor Tremelle Howard in Atlanta in the news release. “The U.S. Department of Labor’s enforcement action and the litigation that followed shows that employers who willfully expose workers to the risks of serious injury or worse will be held accountable for failing in their legal responsibility to provide a safe and healthy workplace.”

Under the order from the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Florida, Tampa Electric will also have to “meet its restitution payment obligation to the families of the deceased and injured workers” reached in previous settlements.

Tampa Electric also paid $139,424 to OSHA for penalties from citations.

About the Author

Alex Saurman is the Content Editor for Occupational Health & Safety.

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