For failing to provide a safe work environment for workers installing an electrical grid upgrade both The Hartford Financial Services Group Inc. and Grubb & Ellis Management Services Inc. were cited by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA) for serious violations of workplace safety standards for exposing workers to electrical hazards at The Hartford’s corporate headquarters and data center in Hartford, CT.
Employers are charged by OSHA with the responsibility of providing safe and healthful workplaces for employees and OSHA sets and enforces these standards by providing training, education, and assistance.
The Hartford was issued one serious citation and may be fined as much as $7,000. Grubb & Ellis was issued six serious citations with $34,000 in proposed fines. OSHA issues a serious citation 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 found The Hartford’s data center policy required electricians employed by its maintenance contractor, Grubb & Ellis, to perform work in live electrical panels for computer equipment without first de-energizing (shutting off) the panels. Grubb & Ellis failed to de-energize the electrical panels before having its employees perform installation work and grid upgrades.
In addition, Grubb & Ellis was cited for:
- Assigning employees to work on live parts and circuits on the electrical systems;
- Failing to train workers on electrical safe work practices and use of protective equipment needed to guard against electrical hazards;
- Failing to have in place a specific hazardous energy control procedures to prevent the activation or the release of hazardous energy from equipment during maintenance and repair work;
- Failing to develop and adequately train all authorized employees on hazardous energy control and procedures for safely applying, using, and removing energy control devices.
“Employers must understand they or their contractors must first de-energize electrical equipment and circuits before employees work on them,” said Paul Mangiafico, OSHA’s area director in Hartford. “Working on live electrical equipment needlessly exposes workers to potential death or disabling injury from arc flash, arc blast, or electric shock. Proper and effective safeguards must be in place and in use at all times.”
Each employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Detailed information on electrical hazards and safeguards at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/electrical/index.html
Information on hazardous energy control is at: http://www.osha.gov/SLTC/controlhazardousenergy/index.html
Author Rebecca Shafer, JD, President of Amaxx Risks Solutions, Inc. is a national expert in the field of workers compensation. She is a writer, speaker, and website publisher. Her expertise is working with employers to reduce workers compensation costs, and her clients include airlines, healthcare, printing/publishing, pharmaceuticals, retail, hospitality, and manufacturing. See www.LowerWC.com for more information. Contact:RShafer@ReduceYourWorkersComp.com or 860-553-6604.
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