McConnell Dowell faces charges over death

Last updated 15:53 23/01/2014

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A New Zealand company is facing workplace-safety charges in American Samoa after the death of a worker.

The United States Department of Labour's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) says it has cited McConnell Dowell Constructors in Pago Pago over nine serious violations of workplace-safety standards.

A worker was electrocuted last July 10 during a crane operation as the company was building a bridge near Leone on the main island of Tutuila.

Several workers were moving a concrete tribar near a 7600-volt power line.

"A worker acting as a signalman motioned for the crane operator to stop," OSHA said.

"The crane's hook was near the energised overhead line and when the worker approached the crane, placing his hands on the crane, he was electrocuted."

Galen Blanton, director of OSHA's Honolulu office, said it was illegal to carry out such work close to a live wire.

"This tragic death could have been prevented if a safe distance was maintained between the crane and the live power line," he said.

OSHA cited McConnell Dowell over nine serious violations of safety standards, including failure to determine the safe working distances when workers were operating a crane close to high-voltage power lines.

The company was also cited for failing to ensure that at least one electrocution hazard warning label was affixed in the crane cab within view of the operator and that at least two were posted on the outside of the crane before use.

Other violations include failure to provide workers with personal flotation devices while working in or near water, to conduct and document monthly crane inspections, to ensure that a crane operator had access to load charts and other safety procedures and to identify a crane's safety boundaries to prevent employees from entering hazard areas.

McConnell Dowell Constructors faces US$42,300 ($50,933) in possible fines for the violations.

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- Fairfax Media

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