OSHA Fines Contractor After Deadly Crane Electrocution

January 23, 2014

OSHA has cited McConnell Dowell Constructors in Pago Pago, American Samoa with nine serious safety violations. Inspections began after a worker was electrocuted during a crane operation on July 10, 2013. The worker died in the accident.

The employer faces $42,300 in proposed fines for the violations.

Several workers were building a two-lane bridge at a job site in Leone Village when a crane attempted to move a large, concrete tribar within 10 feet of an unsleeved 7,600-volt power line. A worker acting as a signalman motioned for the crane operator to stop. The crane's hook was near the energized overhead line and when the worker approached the crane, placing his hands on the crane, he was electrocuted.

"OSHA standards prohibit working close to energized power lines," said Galen Blanton, director of OSHA's Honolulu Area Office. "This tragic death could have been prevented if a safe distance was maintained between the crane and the live power line."

OSHA cited the employer with nine serious violations of safety standards, including failure to determine the safe working distances when workers were operating a crane close to high-voltage power lines. The company was also cited for failing to ensure that at least one electrocution hazard warning label was affixed in the crane cab within view of the operator and that at least two were posted on the outside of the crane before use.

Other serious violations include failure to provide workers with personal floatation devices while working in or near water; to conduct and document monthly crane inspections; ensure that a crane operator had access to load charts and other safety procedures; and identify a crane's safety boundaries to prevent employees from entering hazard areas. McConnell Dowell Constructors also failed to ensure that each signalman met the qualification requirements before giving any signals.

The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.