The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Hialeah, Fla.,-based Bennett Electrical Services Co. Inc. for three safety violations, including one willful, after an employee was seriously injured.
During an inspection begun in August based on a referral, OSHA found that an employee had been injured and hospitalized as a result of a defective truck-mounted crane. While moving concrete traffic light poles with the crane, the boom of the crane separated from the truck, striking the operator in the head, which knocked him off the operator's station and onto the ground.
One willful violation with a $42,000 penalty is for failing to conduct annual inspections on a truck-mounted crane. The employer was aware of safety concerns raised by OSHA in previous citations issued in 2002 and again in 2006. 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.
Two serious violations with $8,400 in proposed fines have been issued for allowing modifications to be made to the truck-mounted crane without the written approval of the manufacturer and allowing the crane to continue to be operated despite known deficiencies. 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.
"Because this employer failed to provide safe equipment, a worker was seriously injured and could have been killed," said Darlene Fossum, director of OSHA's Fort Lauderdale Area Office. "This unfortunate incident illustrates why following OSHA's standards is so important. All employees deserve a work environment free from unnecessary hazards."
Bennett Electrical Services, which removes and replaces electrical and traffic light poles under contract with local governments and companies, has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
To ask questions, obtain compliance assistance, file a complaint or report workplace hospitalizations, fatalities or situations posing imminent danger to workers, the public should call OSHA's toll-free hotline at 800-321-OSHA (6742) or the agency's Fort Lauderdale office at 954-424-0242.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to ensure these conditions for America's working men and women by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.