Black Hills Corp., doing business as Black Hills Energy in Pueblo, CO, is facing $75,000 in fines for two safety violations, including one willful, said officials at the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).
The citations were the result of an employee coming in contact with an energized power line while making repairs and suffered a serious injury in July.
Workers responding to a power interruption during a summer thunderstorm suffered exposure to electrical shock hazards when they entered the minimum approach distance without any protective safety measures in place.
Only one of the five energized lines ended up de-energized while they performed the work. The willful violation, with a penalty of $70,000, was for failing to ensure workers had protection from energized overhead electrical lines while making the repairs. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.
“This situation could have easily resulted in a fatality. When workers respond to storm outages, all reasonable precautions must be taken to protect workers from electrical shock hazards,” said David Nelson, OSHA’s area director in Greenwood Village. “OSHA will not tolerate such negligence.”
The serious violation, with a penalty of $5,000, was for failing to conduct an adequate briefing to inform employees of all potential hazards associated with the job, work procedures involved, special precautions, energy source controls and required personal protective equipment. A serious violation occurs 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.
Black Hills Corp. has headquarters in Rapid City, N.D., and employs 1,800 workers nationwide. Black Hills Energy, located in Pueblo, CO, provides electrical and natural gas services to more than 600,000 customers in communities throughout Colorado, Iowa, Kansas and Nebraska.