PG&E cited for Benicia electrocution

September 17, 2010 1:52:01 PM PDT
The California Division of Occupational Health and Safety issued citations totaling more than $176,000 Thursday against PG&E in connection with the electrocution of a lineman in Benicia in March.

PG&E spokeswoman Cindy Pollard said PG&E is reviewing the nine citations against it, which total $176,165, and will respond within the 15 working days it has to file an appeal.

Maximilliano Martinez, 26, of Windsor, was killed while installing transformers in an underground vault containing 12,000-volt power lines around 10 a.m. on March 17.

PG&E said Martinez and three other PG&E workers were installing transformers in the area of Panorama Court and Panorama Drive when the incident occurred.

Martinez worked for PG&E just less than five years out of the Calistoga yard in Napa County, PG&E said.

The largest "willful accident-related" citation of $70,000 alleges PG&E "did not require and ensure that the work location was safely accessible by protecting employees from coming into contact with energized electrical parts before directing employees to enter the vault" Cal-OSHA said in a news release.

There were three "serious accident-related" citations of $22,500 each.

Those citations allege PG&E did not insulate the ends of the two conductors that were being installed, did not ground the concentric shielding of the new transformer cables to the grounding system before the cables were energized, and permitted employees to approach energized electrical parts without requiring approved insulating handle, gloves or safety equipment.

A $425 regulatory citation alleges PG&E did not post a conspicuous sign, "Warning-High Voltage-Keep Out".

Four "serious" citations of $9,560 each allege PG&E did not provide or require an observer during installation of the conductors inside the energized vault, and didn't ascertain whether any part of the electrical circuit was located where an employee could come in contact with it.

The citations also alleged the utility did not provide and ensure suitable rubber gloves, barricades or other means of isolation from exposure to energized electrical equipment, and did not provide or require that all exposed energized cables or equipment were covered with suitable protective equipment or were barricaded while employees were working in the electrical vault.


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