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October 22, 1997

L&I fines Colorado company in Olympia electrocution

TUMWATER - A Colorado construction company has been cited and fined $95,400 by the Department of Labor & Industries in connection with the electrocution of an electrical worker by a high-voltage line near Tumwater in April.

Brian E. Egeness, 36, of Glendive, MT, a lineman for Great Southwestern Construction Co. Inc., of Castle Rock, CO, died April 25 after he was exposed to electricity from a 230-kilovolt transmission line in the 5400 block of Trosper Road. The accident occurred while the worker was installing a new line adjacent to a live one on the same tower.

Under the Washington Industrial Safety and Health Act, L&I is required to investigate all occupational fatalities.

L&I's investigation revealed numerous violations of safety regulations designed to protect workers from the hazard of electrical shock.

Two of the violations were willful violations, indicating that the employer either knew, or should have known, that the violations were occurring and did little or nothing to correct or prevent them. The employer was assessed a penalty of $42,000 for each violation. In the first, the employer:

  • Failed to ensure that employees maintained minimum distances from energized lines as required.
  • Failed to ensure that insulated sticks were used to place protective equipment near or on energized conductors.
  • Failed to ensure that conductors were bonded to the tower where work was being performed on the transmission line.
  • Failed to ensure that appropriate lines were grounded properly.
  • Failed to ensure that adequate grounds were installed at each work site.
  • Failed to ensure that all employees were clear of the conductor and that a protective tool was used when the ground was removed.
  • Failed to ensure that the ground end was firmly attached to a reliable ground.
  • Failed to ensure that all grounds and mechanical connections were inspected and checked before each use.
  • Failed to ensure that all grounding jumpers configured properly.
  • Failed to ensure that de-energized lines were tested for voltage in an approved manner.
The second willful violation cited the employer for:
  • Failing to appoint qualified workers to supervise other employees.
  • Failing to ensure that all lead workers understood the rules regulating electrical construction, and that they required all employees under their direction to read them.
  • Failing to ensure that all lead workers required employees to properly use all safety devices and equipment.
  • Failing to ensure that all foremen observed and enforced all safety rules.
In addition, the company also was cited for three serious violations, carrying penalties totaling $11,400. One of these focused on training issues and the company's failure to ensure that employees were trained as required.

Also, the second violation was related to the inspection, maintenance and cleaning of specialized tools used in work with the high-voltage transmission lines.

The third violation related to the use, repair operation of a crane used at the work site.

The employer has 15 work days from the time of receipt to appeal the citations and penalties.

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For media information, contact: 
Bill Ripple, L&I, 360-902-5407, ripp235@lni.wa.gov

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