According to a recent press release, a local contractor faces fines from the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) arising from OSHA’s discovery of electrocution hazards that pose serious safety risks to workers at the company’s Cambridge worksite. Employees had been working in close proximity to energized power lines, using a trench rod and a fiberglass pole with a metal end to lift overhead power lines in order to move excavating equipment under the lines and onto their worksites – an activity that poses a serious risk of electrocution to the workers, and that violates OSHA worker safety standards.
OSHA proposed over $70,000 in fines for the contractor’s violations. In 2011, the contractor had been cited for similar violations at a Framingham worksite. Accordingly, the contractor had already been made aware of the safety hazards associated with working near and around energized power lines, justifying OSHA’s categorization of the Cambridge site violation as a willful violation. 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 risk of worker electrocution in construction jobs is especially prominent. OSHA has providedsafety tips for workers in the construction industry when working with overhead power lines, which emphasize the continuous exercise of “good judgment or common sense,” and which aim to reduce the risk of work-related injuries and death from electrical hazards.