The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited Eversource Energy Service Co. for five violations of workplace safety standards after its investigation of a fatal arc flash and arc blast in Boston’s Beacon Hill neighborhood on July 12, 2022, that led to a worker’s death.
At the time of the incident, Eversource employees were doing maintenance work on electrical equipment located inside an underground electrical vault at 28 Bowdoin St. As one employee set the equipment back into place, an arc flash and blast occurred inside the vault. The employee suffered severe burns and later died.
OSHA has cited Eversource for two willful and three serious violations with a total of $333,560 in proposed penalties.
Eversource disagrees with the agency’s findings.
Investigators found that Eversource did not fully de-energize the electrical equipment or follow the manufacturer’s maintenance recommendations when employees conducted maintenance. OSHA said the utility also failed to make a “reasonable estimate” of the heat energy to which employees would be exposed if an arc flash and blast occurred. Finally, OSHA found Eversource did not adequately train the employees on electrical equipment hazards, provide rescue equipment nor test oxygen levels before the employees entered the vault, an enclosed space.
“Eversource could have prevented this arc flash and blast – and its tragic outcome – by ensuring effective and necessary training, procedures and work practices were provided and followed,” said OSHA Area Director James Mulligan in Braintree. “The company knew the hazards related to this type of high voltage equipment, yet it failed to safeguard its employees as the law requires.”
Eversource spokesperson Caroline Pretyman told Insurance Journal the company disagrees with the OSHA findings. “We remain deeply saddened by the passing of our colleague Fabio Pires following the tragic incident in Downtown Boston last summer. Safety is the most fundamental aspect of our everyday focus to provide reliable energy service, and we always strive to lead by example in accordance with industry best practices,” her statement said. “While we disagree with the conclusions reached by OSHA as well as the characterizations of our actions, we share a determination in learning from what happened to prevent future tragedies and will continue to respond accordingly as this process becomes final.”
Eversource has 15 business days to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the findings before the independent OSHA review commission
Eversource transmits electricity and other energy products to customers in Connecticut, Massachusetts and New Hampshire.
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