Safety and OSHA News

Fatal fall while changing light ballast: $175K OSHA fine

This incident shows even the most routine workplace tasks can prove deadly. 

OSHA has fined Jersey City Medical Center (parent RWJBarnabas Health) $174,593 for one willful and four serious violations in connection with a fall that caused a worker’s death.

JCMC notified OSHA that on June 26, 2016, a worker needed to be hospitalized after falling from a ladder as he changed an overhead ballast in a light fixture. The worker died from his injuries on July 17, 2016. OSHA found the worker received an electrical shock while working from an A-frame ladder and fell six feet to the floor, striking his head.

The willful violation was issued because the facility required employees to change ballasts without the proper training on practices and procedures necessary to disable machinery or equipment to prevent hazardous energy release.

The serious violations were for failing to:

  • de-energize live parts to which an employee may be exposed before working on or near them
  • lock or tag out circuits energizing parts of fixed electric equipment while an employee was exposed to them
  • maintain written procedures for de-energizing 277-volt circuits for employees conducting electrical work such as changing ballasts, and
  • provide general maintenance mechanics with appropriate hand protection such as rubber insulting gloves while performing live electrical work including, but not limited to, changing ballasts which operate at 277 volts.

“This worker’s death was preventable,” said Kris Hoffman, director of OSHA’s Parsippany, NJ, Area Office. “Jersey City Medical Center did not have basic lockout/tagout safeguards in place to prevent exposure to electrical hazards, and failed to train its maintenance workers on these safeguards. As a result, the worker sustained an electrical shock while changing the ballast.”

The employer has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to comply, request a conference with OSHA, or contest the violations to the Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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