OSHA has cited a Region I lawn care service for seven alleged serious violations of workplace safety standards in connection with the July death of a worker who was performing tree trimming work. The worker was fatally shocked when the aluminum pruner he was using came into contact with an energized 7,200-volt overhead power line.

OSHA's investigators found that the employer failed to de-energize or ground the power line before the work began, as well as to provide protective shields, barriers or insulating materials to protect workers from shocks, burns or other electrical-related injuries. Also, the pruner was not insulated and was used within 10 feet of the power line, the employee lacked both proper training and protective gloves, and the employer did not institute work practices to reduce the electrical hazard. 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.

This worker's death could have been prevented had the employer ensured that the power line was de-energized or otherwise properly protected, says OSHA. In addition, the company should have ensured the use of proper equipment, training and work practices to minimize this deadly but avoidable hazard."

The lawn care service faces $49,000 in proposed fines, and has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, meet informally with the OSHA area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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