Eversource Energy Service Co. is facing more than $330,000 in fines after being cited by OSHA (the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration) last week for five violations of workplace safety standards stemming from a deadly manhole explosion last July on Bowdoin Street that claimed the life of one worker, according to a Jan. 12 press release from the federal agency.
On July 12 of last year, Eversource employees were doing maintenance work on electrical equipment located inside an underground vault at 28 Bowdoin St. An arc flash and blast occurred inside the vault as one worker was setting the equipment in place. The employee, who was identified by The Boston Globe as 31-year-old Fabio Pires of Brockton, suffered severe burns and later died.
According to OSHA, investigators determined that: “did not fully deenergize the electrical equipment or follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations when employees conducted maintenance; failed to make a reasonable estimate of the heat energy to which employees would be exposed if an arc flash and blast occurred; and did not adequately train the employees on electrical equipment hazards, provide rescue equipment nor test oxygen levels before the employees entered the vault, an enclosed space.”
OSHA Area Director James Mulligan in Braintree, Mass., stated in the press release: “Eversource could have prevented this arc flash and blast – and its tragic outcome – by ensuring effective and necessary training, procedures and work practices were provided and followed. The company knew the hazards related to this type of high voltage equipment, yet it failed to safeguard its employees as the law requires.”
Eversource was cited by OSHA for two willful and three serious violations with a total of $333,560 in proposed penalties.