Monika Hartl
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Company Faces Nearly Half A Million In Fines After Highway Worker’s Electrocution

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited a Houston-based company with 10 safety violations after a worker came in contact with overhead power lines and was killed working on I-94 near Menomonie, Wis.

According to OSHA, Highway Technologies Inc. was performing guard rail and sign installation for a 13-mile stretch of I-94 in western Wisconsin last September as part of a contract with the Wisconsin Department of Transportation when the accident happened.

The company is facing $448,000 in fines and was cited for 10 safety violations including six willful violations. The six willful ones are instance-by-instance violations of failing to ensure part s of the equipment operated were not within 10 feet of a power line, exposing workers to electrical shocks and electrocution hazards. The citations also include instances of failing to ensure any part of the machinery was not within six feet of an overhead power line while the machine was traveling below the power lines.

“Highway Technologies failed to protect its workers from serious electrocution hazards,” said Assistant Secretary of Labor for Occupational Safety and Health Dr. David Michaels. “Multiple instances of the same violation over a period of time clearly demonstrate a willful failure to comply with basic safety and health standards. Employers must take steps to eliminate hazards and provide a safe working environment.”

Because of the nature of the violations, the company was placed in OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program, mandating targeted follow-ups to make sure the company is complying with the law.

Four additional serious safety violations include failing to identify electrical work zones, determine if any part of the equipment being operated would be closer than 20 feet of a power line, train each worker on safe clearance distances from power lines, and evaluate that each employee understood the training and risks of working near overhead power lines.

The company has 15 business days to pay penalties and comply, request an informal conference or contest the findings of OSHA.

If your loved one was seriously injured or killed in a work-related accident, it is imperative to discuss the situation with a Wisconsin worker’s compensation attorney. Call today for your free, initial consultation.

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