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Published: Friday, 11/7/2003

Death leads to stiff fines for company

BY GARY T. PAKULSKI
BLADE BUSINESS WRITER

A Carey, Ohio firm has been slapped with $192,000 in safety fines in the death of a 33-year-old employee last spring.

Vaughn Industries was cited by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration for nine violations of federal safety laws in the death of Eric Beis May 7.

He was electrocuted while working at an electric substation near Fostoria.

Seven infractions were identified as “willful,” which is the most severe citation meted out by the agency, said Dick Tracy, OSHA s assistant area director.

The fine, which the company has 15 days to pay or contest, was the largest issued in northwest Ohio in recent years, he added.

A crew from the firm was working on the 345,000-volt Lemoyne transmission line, identified at the time of the accident as being operated by American Electric Power Co., according to OSHA s report.

Mr. Beis, of Sycamore, Ohio, was working in a lift truck when the incident happened.

The citations state that electricity to the transmission line was shut off, but that the mishap occurred because the firm failed to adequately ground the line.

The firm, in a written statement yesterday, said: “We regret and are deeply saddened by the tragic loss of our fellow employee and friend. We are presently reviewing OSHA s preliminary findings and will be responding to them accordingly.”

Vaughn Industries employs 290 and specializes in transmission line work for electric utilities, according to OSHA.

Federal inspectors allege that:

Employees were not trained in emergency procedures to be taken if a co-worker suffered electrocution.

Supervisors didn t brief workers on the proper approach to the job or its potential hazard before work began.

Machinery wasn t set up in a way to minimize the risk of electrocution.

Workers in a 50-foot lift, as well as those on the ground, were allowed to get too close to potentially dangerous areas.

Vaughn Industries was given until Nov. 24 to fix the problems.

OSHA also claims the company failed to turn over safety logs immediately after the accident as required by law, and instead waited 12 days.



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