Berkeley Lab

Duke Energy: 1 employee electrocuted and company fined for failing to implement control measures its safety team developed to protect employees

DUKE Energy fined $90,000 in connection with worker death.

Dasher and other employees were testing equipment at a substation when Dasher came into contact with a test line carrying approximately 10,000 volts of electricity.

Officials said Dasher fell down. When co-workers got to him, he was breathing. They immediately contacted medical personnel and performed CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Dasher was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The 35-year-old Oxford man died eight days later at the hospital.

A news release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor states that Dasher was using a circuit-testing technique that bypassed safety protocols designed to protect workers from electrical currents. Duke Energy, the release states, knew workers were bypassing safety protocols to conduct testing and did not enforce safety standards. Because of this, officials said “the company has a history of nonfatal shock injuries.”

“Duke Energy is aware of the fatal hazards that Dasher and other workers are exposed to but failed to implement control measures its safety team developed to protect employees,” said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA’s Jacksonville area office, on Friday.
The release explains that a willful citation was given to Duke Energy for “failure to have a qualified observer present during testing that could immediately de-energize circuits,” and that “a willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.”

Serious citations OSHA officials gave Duke Energy were for failure to ensure transformers were grounded and safety-checked between each test, and failure to provide training to workers who assisted with transformer testing. Another citation came from failure to ensure controlled access to the test area to protect workers from electrical shock hazards.

A serious violation is described as when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard, about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA officials have proposed that Duke Energy be placed on their “severe violator enforcement program for demonstrating indifference to its OSHA obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.”

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