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Hyde Park Contractor Subjects Employees to Electrocution Hazards: Faces $70,000 in Fines

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Health and Safety Administration says that it has cited P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., a Hyde Park contracting company, for knowingly exposing workers to electrocution hazards from power lines at Cambridge, Massachusetts work site.

According to a press release published by OSHA, the company exposed its employees to possible electrocution from working close to energized power lines at a work site where required safeguards were not used. On May 9, an inspection by an OSHA official found that employees used a trench rod and a fiberglass pole with a metal end to lift overhead power lines, so that workers could move excavating equipment under the lines and onto the work site.

According to OSHA’s area director, Jeffrey Erskine (who handles cases in Middlesex and Essex counties), “This employer knew the overhead power lines were dangerous, but did not take steps to protect workers or shield them from contact and electrocution. Electricity is swift and deadly. While it is fortunate no one was injured or killed in this case, the hazard of death or disabling burns was real and present.”

Because of this incident, the contracting company faces $70,290 in proposed fines. In 2011, P. Gioioso & Sons Inc., was cited for the same hazard at a Framingham work site. Based on the employer’s knowledge of the hazard, OSHA has cited Gioioso for a willful violation with $69,300 in proposed fines. According to OSHA standards, a willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health. Another violation, with a $990 fine, was cited for improper labeling of a trench box.

ELECTROCUTION ACCIDENTS

An electric shock or electrocution can occur when a person touches any source of voltage high enough to have electrical current run through the muscles or hair. Electric shock can cause minor injuries (tingling), trauma or death. Death by electric shock is called electrocution, but people also use the term to describe injuries as well. Electrocution most often, occurs in the workplace, whether it is because of faulty electrical wiring, live wires, or improper management of live wires.

Electrical-shock and electrocutions can be minor, severe, or deadly. Most often when there is direct contact with an electrical current, electrothermal burns (both on the surface and beneath the skin) can result. A flash burn happens when heat from electricity burns the skin, possibly over a large section of the skin, but doesn’t enter into the body itself and is therefore not as deep as an electrothermal burn. Electrocutions, according to OSHA, are a part of the “Fatal Four” types of incidents that cause worker deaths. In 2012, electrocutions accounted for 8.1% of worker deaths; it was the third-leading cause of death in construction industry related deaths following falls and struck by object accidents.

If you or a loved one was injured as a result of an employer’s or company’s negligence, you may be entitled to filing a workers’ compensation claim. Under Massachusetts law, workers’ compensation benefits grant employees who’ve been injured, coverage for their injuries, medical expenses and lost wages directly relating to their injury. However, it is sometimes difficult to obtain the workers’ compensation benefits that are deserved, so it is best advised in these types of situations, given the complexity and confusion these cases tend to generate, to consult with a legal professional about your options and rights. At the law offices of Altman & Altman our team of seasoned Workers’ Compensation Attorneys has nearly 50 years of experience handling all types of workers’ compensation and personal injury claims and we have helps clients across the Commonwealth obtain millions of dollars in compensatory damages and settlements.

We understand the emotional and financial stress an injury places on a family, and we stand ready to help guide you through this difficult time. Call or email our office today to schedule a free and confidential initial consultation with one of our esteemed lawyers.

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