OSHA Urges Stronger Electrical Safety

OSHA Urges Stronger Electrical Safety

KANSAS CITY, MO ‒ Amid a national increase in workplace deaths by electrocution, OSHA urges employers to emphasize stronger electrical safety. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports a 3.75 percent increase – 166 workplace deaths related to electrocution – in 2019 over the previous year. From November 2018 through October 2021, OSHA investigated 12 electrical-related deaths in Missouri and Kansas.

Electrical Hazards Killed Four Workers In Midwest

Electrical hazards killed four workers in Missouri and Kansas within five months in 2021. Fatal accidents occurred in Missouri while a 40-year-old electrical contractor replaced light fixtures in Sedalia. On Sept. 23, a 22-year-old worker was killed when cleaning a Higbee pig barn with a pressure washer. Another tragic electrical accident happened in Wichita, Kansas when a 41-year-old worked with heating and air conditioning equipment. A month earlier, electrical hazards proved fatal to a 35-year-old electrical contractor while climbing a pole in Lawrence, Kansas. Their stories and circumstances may differ, but the cause of death is the same – electrocution.

While OSHA continues its investigations of these employer-reported deaths, the agency urges the Midwest employers to emphasize electrical safety practices.

“Recent tragedies in Missouri and Kansas are reminders of the danger of electrical exposures in the workplace. OSHA’s electrical standards are designed to protect employees from electric shock and electrocution,” said OSHA’s Acting Regional Administrator Billie Kizer in Kansas City, Missouri. “Employers should implement safety and health programs, and are required to train workers on identifying hazards and use required protective measures to ensure all employees end each workday safely,” he continued.

Hazard Recognition, Safety Audits, and Training Can Enhance Electrical Safety

Electricity has long been recognized as a serious workplace hazard. Engineers, electricians, and other professionals work with electricity directly, including working on overhead lines, cable harnesses, and circuit assemblies. Others, such as office workers and sales personnel, work with electricity indirectly but may also be exposed to electrical hazards.

Many workers are unaware of the potential electrical hazards present in their workplace, making them more vulnerable to electrocution. The following hazards are the most frequent causes of electrical injuries: contact with power lines, lack of ground-fault protection, the path to ground missing or discontinuous, equipment not used per manufacture specifications, and improper use of extension and flexible cords.

Employers may implement various solutions to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury associated with electrical work. Examples of solutions include the use of insulation, guarding, grounding, electrical protective devices, and safe work practices. It is recommended employers conduct periodic electrical safety inspections to identify potentially hazardous electrical situations and provide corrective actions. The electrical safety audit also helps determine safety compliance, electrical safety work processes, maintenance tools and identifies potential cost savings and inefficiencies.

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Electrical Safety Resources:

Possible Solutions to reduce or eliminate the risk of injury associated with electrical work.

Electrical Contractors Industry Provides information about the hazards that electrical workers may experience as a part of their jobs.

Working Safely Near Overhead Power Lines Safe work practices to prevent injuries from contact with power lines.

 

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MO Contractor Fined $224K after Trench Collapse, Employee Injury

Creve Coeur, MO- OSHA cited a Missouri contractor for violations of trenching and excavation standards after an employee suffered severe injuries when a 20-foot trench collapsed during an excavation at Creve Coeur Sanitary Sewer Trunk.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited Unnerstall Contracting Company LLC, based in Pacific, Missouri, for three willful and four serious violations. The penalties amounted to $224,459.

The company was cited for failing to use adequate trench protective systems, permitting employees to ride in the bucket of hydraulic excavators, allowing water to accumulate in the floor of the trench, failing to provide a safe means of egress from the trench, failing to protect workers from struck-by hazards, and failing to place excavated soil piles an adequate distance from trench edges.

OSHA has since placed the company in the agency’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the OSHA citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

These penalties and citations embody a number of safety topics and issues, some of which could be prevented and resolved by proper management training.

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UPS Conveyor Belt Death, OSHA Investigates

Authorities have not released the man’s name or any other details about what led to the incident.

In a statement, UPS said it was continuing to work with authorities.

“We are saddened for the loss of a vendor’s employee, who was maintaining equipment at one of our facilities,” the statement read. “We are working with the responding authorities, and extend our heartfelt condolences to the individual’s family, friends and coworkers.”

According to a spokesperson for the U.S. Department of Labor, compliance officers with the Occupational Safety and Health Administration have opened an investigation at the UPS facility at 1010 N. Century Ave.

The spokesperson said that no further details will be released until OSHA completes the investigation, which it has six months to do by law.

UPS Conveyor Belt Death in Missouri

Understanding OSHA’s regulations and having proper employee training is essential in avoiding hazardous situations, such as this conveyor belt death.

The agency, which has jurisdiction over 7 million work sites across the U.S., prioritizes inspections at places that present “imminent danger situations” or where “severe injuries and illnesses,” including work-related fatalities, have occurred.

Emergency crews responded to the facility, which is just south of Front Street and east of Interstate 435, around 6 p.m. Monday. Crews performed CPR on the man on the way to the hospital.

Police initially reported that the man had been pronounced dead at the UPS facility, but said about an hour later that he was alive but had life-threatening injuries. UPS confirmed his death on Tuesday afternoon.

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OSHA Fines Area Construction Firm for Repeat and Serious Jobsite Violations

Kansas City, MO- The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited a Kansas City-area construction company for multiple violations observed during a May jobsite visit.

According to KSHB, OSHA fined Blue Nile Contractors Inc. $210,037 for failing “to protect employees from trench collapse and electrical hazards.” Inspectors reported four repeat and five serious safety violations during the visit to a site where water lines were being installed.

Blue Nile is a minority-owned wet utility contractor that specializes in trenchless sewer and water construction. The Birmingham, Mo., company was selected as one of the Greater Kansas City Chamber of Commerce’s Top 10 Small Businesses in 2018.

Blue Nile has been placed in the Severe Violator Enforcement Program, KSHB reports. The company has 15 days to comply with OSHA demands or contest the findings.

Proper training and education regarding OSHA violations and accident prevention are is one way for companies to combat these high fines.

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