A Midwest green energy company now knows that getting caught in OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program (SVEP) results in huge fines.
OSHA has proposed $378,000 in penalties for Outland Renewable Services, based in Minnesota, for six willful, egregious safety violations. That’s $63,000 per violation — 90% of the $70,000 maximum OSHA can issue in a case such as this.
On Oct. 20, 2010, Outland technicians were performing maintenance at the Iberdrola Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm in Odell, IL.
An unidentified technician suffered third degree burns to his neck, chest and arms, and second degree burns to his face as a result of an arc flash that occurred when a transformer was unexpectedly energized by another worker.
OSHA says Outland failed to ensure technicians working in the wind farm towers affixed their own lockout/tagout devices on switch gear at the ground level. That created the possibility other workers could energize transformers in the turbine towers where technicians were working about 350 feet above ground.
OSHA issued citations to Outland for exposing technicians to electrical hazards from the unexpected energization of transformers.
The egregious violations in this case fall under OSHA’s SVEP which focuses on employers that endanger workers by committing willful, repeat or failure-to-abate violations.
Outland says it plans to appeal. The employee has since returned to work.
Outland employs 130 technicians who service wind farms in the U.S., Canada and Japan.