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Sub Fined after Painter is Shocked

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

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A Florida contractor is being held liable for second- and third-degree burns suffered by a 30-year-old painter whose ladder came in contact with overhead power lines.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited ShayCore Enterprises, of Jacksonville, with five safety and health violations and says the painter is lucky to be alive. Proposed fines total $63,700.

ShayCore Enterprises

Founded in 2008, ShayCore Enterprises of Jacksonville, FL, is a general contractor serving the industrial, commercial and residential markets.

The citations include one classified as willful, OSHA's highest level of infraction. The willful citation was issued for allowing employees to use aluminum ladders near power lines. Willful violations reflect "intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements" or "plain indifference to worker safety and health."

The worker was not identified, and ShayCore did not respond Monday (Oct. 28) to a request for comment on the case.

Commercial Painting

Founded in 2008, ShayCore Enterprises is a licensed general contracting and construction management firm with three divisions: residential, commercial and industrial. In this case, the company was subcontracted to paint the exterior of a furniture warehouse in Jacksonville.

In addition to the willful violation, serious violations allege:

  • Failure to provide fall protection for workers working up to 27 feet high;
  • Failure to train employees on the hazards of aluminum ladders around electrical lines;
  • Failure to ensure a ladder extended three feet above the roof line; and
  • Lack of a written respiratory protection program.

Serious violations reflect "substantial probability" of death or serious injury from a hazard the employer knew, or should have known, about.

Line Safety

Many agencies and companies offer information on safe use of ladders around power lines. Guidance is available from the Consumer Product Safety Commission and U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, among others.

North Carolina OSHA

Metal ladders around power lines are a common source of electrocution and shock injuries. Here, a painter perished when repositioning his 26-foot-tall extension ladder, which contacted 24,000-volt lines 16 feet from the house.

Experts commonly offer these recommendations:

  • Avoid the use of metal ladders whenever possible.
  • Carefully check the location of all overhead lines before using a ladder.
  • Because power and phone lines often appear similar, assume that all overhead wires carry electricity. (Although some overhead lines may be coated, the coating is not intended to protect against electrocution.)
  • Keep all equipment at least 10 feet away from any line—and at least 25 feet away for transmission lines on towers or taller, larger poles.
  • Always lower a ladder and carry it horizontally to reposition it.
  • Get help in carrying and setting up long ladders, which can be unwieldy.
  • Never leave a ladder unattended.
  • If someone is holding a ladder that contacts a power line, do not try to pull the victim away with your hands.

In the case of ShayCore, "the employer recognized the hazards associated with working near power lines, but failed to take action to ensure workers were protected and equipped with the proper tools to perform the work safely," said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA's area director in Jacksonville.

"The employer's inaction nearly resulted in a worker losing his life."


Tagged categories: Accidents; Commercial contractors; Health and safety; Ladders; Painting Contractors

Comment from Gary Burke, (10/28/2014, 9:02 AM)

Workers need to use common sense when working with conductive ladders and especially around power lines. Employers always have the responsibility of making sure the employees are well trained and are fully aware of job hazards!

Comment from John Deer, (10/28/2014, 11:46 AM)

Employers should have that responsibility. First and foremost . They are the ones making the profit. Around ninety percent of the jobs I am on these days are breaking the safety rules. Maybe 95%!! They like telling there employees and having them sign papers saying they have been informed of these situations. But onsite they are been completely ignored. The employers are fully aware of this also. When you sent your guys out this morning with a six foot ladder. Did you send him a fall protection set up? No! But it's the employees fault if something happens. Right? But yet the employers will provide you with a ladder to complete your work but don't send you with a fall protection setup. I will agree with one thing though. We have to use common since. Because employers REALLY don't care themselves . They just want to give off the persona that they do.

Comment from M. Halliwell, (10/29/2014, 10:48 AM)

Safety is a group effort. Employers are responsible for training and making workers aware of the hazards while employees are responsible for working safely (or not working if the job isn't safe). I've been on sites where the employer's safety plan is a joke and the employees are doing the best they can...but...I've also been on other sites with great safety plans where the employees treat it like a joke and ignore it or mock it. If everyone is on the right page, safety is well looked after and everyone goes home at the end of the day...if it isn't, by one side, the other or both, then folks end up going to the hospital or morgue instead.

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