A California school district employee was electrocuted while performing maintenance. Now the district and Cal/OSHA have settled the fines in connection with the 2009 death: The district will pay just 17.5% of what was originally proposed.
Sprinkler system specialist James Jeffredo was performing maintenance on the Desert Sands Unified School District (DSUSD) irrigation system when he was electrocuted. The original citation from Cal/OSHA stated Jeffredo repeatedly asked to hire an outside contractor to work on the system’s pump motors.
Cal/OSHA’s initial citations included six counts: three general and three serious. The agency said DSUSD hadn’t properly trained Jeffredo to do the electrical work and hadn’t provided and required the use of safety equipment.
The district appealed the fines. A Cal/OSHA spokeswoman said as a result of the appeal, the fines were decreased based on new evidence, adjustments of the severity of the violations, an abatement credit and a “good faith penalty adjustment” given to the district for promising to change or fix problems.
The resulting $7,700 fine is 17.5% of the originally proposed $44,000.
The resolution of this case comes one week after a federal report was critical of Cal/OSHA for procedures and results of the appeals process for fines which vary widely from federal precedent.
Federal OSHA intends to bring states’ citation and appeals practices more in line with its own. Beginning Oct. 1, 2010, federal OSHA is reducing the discounts given for such factors as company size, employer history and good faith effort to correct problems.