As children, we may have seen downed power lines around our Pennsylvania neighborhoods. Our parents wisely cautioned us to stay away from them. Live wires can pose a significant risk to the health and life of anyone who comes into contact with them. Telecommunications workers operate around power lines every day, but usually are kept free from harm through proper safety measures. Employees have the right to expect that their employers are following applicable safety measures. The death of one worker illustrates how quickly things can go wrong when correct procedures are not observed.

In 2011, a Verizon employee was working on a line from inside an elevated bucket. During his work, he came into contact with a live wire and was killed. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration initiated an investigation into the workplace accident and released its findings this week. The OSHA report determined that Verizon did not observe proper safety measures in the man’s death.

In addition, OSHA found that the violations were not limited to this one accident. The report revealed that workers did not receive sufficient instruction from Verizon on how to operate around dangerous wires. The report also evinced the company’s continual failure to provide workers with necessary safety equipment, such as gloves and helmets. Verizon, which has a record of prior safety violations, received 10 citations from OSHA and a $140,000 fine, the highest dollar amount permitted.

For its part, Verizon has indicated that it will appeal the OSHA report. It has stated that it was in compliance with all OSHA regulations when the accident occurred. It also stated that it regularly trains its employees on safety measures.

Source: The New York Times, “Verizon Fined $140,000 After Electrocution Death,” Hannah Miet, Mar. 19, 2012.