This case involves a man who was electrocuted by a live exposed wire on a construction site. On the day of the incident, construction had been halted in the morning due to rainy weather. In the afternoon, the rain stopped and worked resumed on the site in spite of the deep puddles. While executing a task, the man in question stepped on an energized exposed wire and died instantly. It was alleged that the site was not sufficiently inspected before the personnel returned to work. An expert in OSHA and workplace safety with experience overseeing safety for similar projects was sought to review the case and determine if the site violated any OSHA safety standards.
Question(s) For Expert Witness
- 1. Please describe your experience in overseeing safety for similar projects that involve working near energized electrical boxes, wires, etc.
- 2. What steps should be taken by a general and/or subcontractor to ensure safe work near energized electrical boxes/wires?
- 3. What OSHA and/or other regulations apply to this type of work?
Expert Witness Response E-329385
While working as a compliance officer with OSHA for 25 years, I conducted hundreds of construction worksite inspections and recommended citations related to employees working near energized electrical boxes and wires. As an OSHA area director and regional administrator, I oversaw the investigation of hundreds of fatality investigations caused by contact with energized electrical parts. I also served as the director of OSHA’s directorate of training and education which was responsible for training all OSHA compliance officers in the United States on hazards in the workplace, including courses specifically addressing electrical hazards on construction worksites. Only a qualified person, defined as, “one who has received training in and has demonstrated skills and knowledge in the construction and operation of electric equipment and installations and the hazards involved” is allowed to work on or near exposed energized electrical parts. Additionally, employers in the construction industry must initiate and maintain programs necessary to comply with the OSHA requirements. Those programs shall provide for frequent and regular inspections of the job site, materials, and equipment to be made by a competent person designated by the employer. I would need to have more details about the case in order to make a determination regarding the specific OSHA regulations that would apply to this type of work. In general, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart C – General Safety and Health Provisions, 29 CFR 1926 Subpart K – Electrical, 29 CFR 1910 Subpart S – Electrical, and Section 5(a)(1) of the OSH Act. I have reviewed thousands of OSHA cases involving this type of hazard. Some of those cases were investigated as a result of electrocution or electrical shock, while others address the hazards in a proactive manner before an injury occurred. As a private consultant, I have addressed similar hazards and provided training to workers and management on electrical hazards in both construction and general industrial environments.