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OSHA cites energy company with two violations after worker injury

When you hear the word “accident”, you often do not think of an intentional act. When you hear the phrase work accident, you likely think of a box falling off a top shelf, a shirt getting snagged in a machine or a construction worker getting hit by a passing car. But what if an employer intentionally ignores safety procedures?

Last summer, a Colorado worker was injured after coming into contact with a live power line. Due to a thunderstorm, the worker and several others were making some repairs when the accident occurred. There had been five power lines and four were still energized.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) had launched an investigation into the accident and recently released the findings. According to OSHA, Black Hills Energy, the employer of the injured worker, is facing two safety violations:

  • Serious Violation: failure to ensure that employees were aware of all job hazards, appropriate safety procedures and other safety requirements
  • Willful Violation: intentionally or knowingly failing to make sure that workers “were protected from energized overhead electrical lines while making repairs”

Hopefully these violations will ensure that workers are better protected in the future. The company could address some of the safety issues by providing more comprehensive trainings and making sure that employees understand the job hazards. And though the details of the willful violation were not provided, in the future workers should have the proper equipment to work around energized power lines before heading out to make the repairs.

Black Hills Energy will have to pay $75,000 as a penalty for the violations that led to the worker accident.

Source: OSHA Press Release, “US Labor Department's OSHA cites Black Hills Corp., doing business as Black Hills Energy, in Pueblo, Colo., for exposing workers to electrical hazards,” Jan. 9, 2014.

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