Rios Law Firm PLLC

Severe workplace injuries by arc flash lead to OSHA citations

Employers in Arizona and across the country must protect the health and safety of their employees. The Occupational Safety and Health Administration prescribes strict safety standards, and whenever workers suffer severe workplace injuries, or if lives are lost, investigators will assess the employer's compliance with those regulations. If safety violations led to the injuries or fatalities, citations may be issued, and fines will be proposed.

A metal extraction facility in Arizona is facing proposed fines totaling almost $278,500 along with multiple citations after an OSHA investigation. The inquiry followed an incident in which three workers suffered severe burn injuries that were caused by an arc flash. Investigators reported that the incident occurred after a breaker was inserted into an energized switchgear.

The citations included two willful and one serious violation. Reportedly, the employer failed to provide the workers with safety briefings before they started the job. Furthermore, instead of de-energizing the switchgear to make it inoperable, the work proceeded while it was energized, and the workers were not equipped with PPE to protect them from arc flash.

While the stiff fine and the citations might prevent similar incidents of workplace injuries at this facility, the severely burned workers will likely suffer long-term consequences. Costly skin grafts and therapy may be necessary, adding to the already mounting medical bills. Fortunately, the Arizona workers' compensation insurance program will cover their medical expenses and a portion of lost wages. Further assistance can be obtained by hiring an experienced workers' compensation attorney who can help with the navigation of the claims process and make sure maximum benefits are obtained under applicable laws.

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