A trainee at a Las Vegas-based energy company died in September of last year after falling 75 feet from a horizontal ladder being used as a temporary platform between a transmission tower and a live 500-kilovolt transmission line. The transmission tower was part of a power grid that crosses the Moapa Paiute Reservation northeast of Las Vegas.
OSHA’s investigation into his death found a stunning array of health and safety violations by NV Energy.
In the fall protection category, NV Energy used ladders and platforms in ways they weren’t intended to be used (i.e., a spliced horizontal ladder was used as an anchorage for a personal fall arrest system). The company also failed to ensure that fall arrest equipment met required safety rules and failed to comply with fall protection rules applicable to power transmission lines (which require trainees to use fall protection equipment any time they work more than 4 feet above the ground).
PPE violations accounted for several of the six serious violations earned by the company. Conductive booties that were too small had been modified by having their top portions cut off and secured to the work boots with tape, resulting in potential exposure to transient electrical shock and falls. Gloves and conductive suits also had holes and tears.
"Working with lines energized at thousands of volts demands expertly trained workers clad in gear that can protect workers from shocks associated with strong electromagnetic fields," said Joy Flack, director of OSHA's Las Vegas Area Office.
NV Energy was cited for failing to provide properly fitting personal protective equipment for each worker.
One other-than-serious violation was cited for failing to provide OSHA with injury and illness records within four hours of request.
Proposed penalties for all the penalties total $43,000.