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January 11th, 2017

New Jersey Worker Dies After Electric Shock, Fall From Ladder, Employer Gets 5 OSHA Citations

Last month, OSHA issued multiple citations to a large hospital in North New Jersey after a maintenance worker was killed in a work related accident. The incident occurred in June 2016. The worker was performing electrical work on a ladder when he received a shock and fell 6 feet from a ladder. He struck his head and later died from the injuries.

These kinds of electric accidents are fairly common, and when they occur, the individual who receives the shock often sustains a secondary injury, such as a fall. As work injury lawyers who’ve handled numerous New Jersey work accident cases, we’ve seen multiple shock accidents where the injured worker falls to the ground. In severe instances, the fall causes injuries that are worse than the shock. This recent case certainly highlights the dangers of electric shock accidents in the workplace.

The employer received 5 citations (4 serious and 1 willful), and the penalties total just under $175,000, a large increase from the previous penalty amounts allowed under OSHA rules. Last year, penalties for OSHA violations increased by a whopping 80%. Under the prior penalty amounts, this New Jersey employer would have received a total penalty of $98,000. The difference is sizeable. Get more info about OSHA’s increased penalties for workplace safety violations, effective August 1, 2016.

Electrical Safety Violations Alleged

1 Willful Violation for Violation of OSHA Regulation 1910.332(b)(1)

A willful violation occurs when the employer acts with indifference to employee safety or fails to comply with a safety regulation under circumstances which show that it did so intentionally.

OSHA alleges that employees were not trained or familiar with safety practices for their respective job assignments, in violation of Section 1910.332(b)(1). According to OSHA, the employer did not ensure that maintenance workers were trained for performing electrical work. The proposed penalty amount is $124,709.

4 Serious Violations, Penalty Amounts for Violation of OSHA Regulations 1910.333(a)(1), (b)(2), (c)(2)

A serious violation occurs when an employer acts under circumstances which show a substantial probability that death or serious injury could result from a work condition.

OSHA alleges that live parts were not de-energized before the employee commenced work. In this instance, the worker was working on fluorescent lights with a live 277 volt AC. While changing ballasts, he received an electrical shock and fell from a ladder.

OSHA also alleges that the energizing parts were not locked out or tagged out and that there were no written procedures for de-energizing live circuits (lockout/tagout) for employees conducting electrical work.

Lastly, OSHA alleges that the employer used workers who were not qualified to perform such work and also failed to provide safety equipment like rubber insulating gloves.

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