Safety training procedures are now top of mind at Pacific Gas and Electric Co. (PG&E) after the deaths of three workers in three years.
The deaths prompted PG&E officials to revamp electrical workers’ training, to make sure new employees undergo proper training and veterans don’t cut corners on safety procedures.
After Maximiliano Martinez’s electrocution in March of 2010, Cal/OSHA found nine violations by PG&E of workplace safety laws, several of them serious, according to a report in the San Francisco Chronicle.
Since the 26-year-old lineman died, two more PG&E workers ended up dead in similar accidents.
Gerald “Jerry” Biedinger, 57, died in August 2010 when his digging rig hit an electrical line in Tuolumne City, CA.
Jon Christensen, 30, died in June 2011, in Tracy, CA, as he separated crossed wires without wearing the proper rubber gloves, according to the Cal/OSHA report on the incident.
PG&E is appealing the $18,000 fine that Cal/OSHA is seeking in the Christensen case, while it paid a $14,000 fine for violations related to Biedinger’s death.
Following the deaths of the three workers, the company has developed what PG&E spokesman Joe Molica called “a top-to-bottom approach to training,” with increased training for new electrical line workers and additional training for veterans.
“We take these matters extremely seriously,” Molica said. “Anytime we lose a member of the PG&E family, it’s a tragedy.”
PG&E declined to comment on the specifics of Martinez’s or Christensen’s deaths while its appeals of the Cal/OSHA fines are pending.
In appealing the $176,000 fine for Martinez’s death, however, the company argued the lineman may not have followed PG&E policies, Cal/OSHA records show.