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Citation, penalty in worker electrocution affirmed

power lines

A power line company must still pay nearly $12,000 in fines after federal inspectors found safety and health violations following the death of a worker.

In Eco Powerline LLC v. Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Monday declined to review the commission’s decision affirming a citation and penalty assessed by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration.

In January 2017, Echo Powerline LLC was hired by the Tri-County Electric Corp. in Beaver, Oklahoma, to restore downed power lines and poles, which had fallen over during an ice storm. While one of the repair crews was rehanging the distribution line, the line became energized, killing one worker and burning the arms and feet of another.

Echo reported the fatality and an OSHA compliance officer determined that the employer failed to take proper precautions when rehanging the conductors and issued a serious violation and proposing a penalty of $12,675.

Echo contested the citation, but an administrative law judge affirmed OSHA’s finding but applied a 10% discount to the penalty based on the employer’s size, reducing the penalty to $11,400. The commission affirmed the citation and penalty and Echo filed a petition of review with the 5th Circuit.

The appellate court declined to review the commission’s decision, holding that Echo failed to show that the administrative law judge failed to consider evidence of the alternative precautionary measures the company took to protect its workers that were customary in the industry.

The appellate court noted that OSHA’s provisions for the powerline industry identify specific risks and specific instructions for employers on how to address those risks, and held that the judge did not err in declining to consider evidence that Echo’s alternative methods complied with industry custom.





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