Power company cited by OSHA

Tuesday, February 5, 2002

The U.S. Department of Labor has issued four citations against Allegheny Power and proposed penalizing the utility company $20,000 for its role in the accidental death of a lineman in Bell Township last summer. The department's Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Greensburg-based Allegheny Power for four "serious" violations involving the Aug. 10 death of Thomas Louis Moyes, 34, of New Kensington. Allegheny Power Co. said Monday the company intends to exercise its right to contest the
findings. "We're not disagreeing with the findings, just the language in the citations. The four subject areas they issued citations for were consistent with our own internal investigation of the accident," said Allen Staggers, spokesman for Allegheny Power. William J. Sterner, president of Local 102 of the Utility Workers of America, said the union wasn't satisfied with all of the conclusions reached by OSHA investigators. Let's just say there are still a lot of unanswered questions as far as we're concerned. We're still not satisfied that some of the problems they cite have been abated," Sterner
said. Chip Moyes, father of the lineman who was killed, said he was angry about the company's reaction to the death of his son and what he called a lack of compassion. He said nothing can bring back his son, and his only wish is that no other family be subjected to the same grief. "From the day
my son died until now, (Allegheny Power) has done nothing. They never even came to the house or called to ask how we were doing," said the elder Moyes, 56, of New Kensington. Chip Moyes said his son left a daughter who will turn 4 years old next month. Thomas Moyes was electrocuted after coming in
contact with a storm-damaged power line in Bell Township. Injured in the accident were co-workers Edward Copney, 39, of Washington Township, and David A. Berkebile, 39, of New Kensington. The three were among a five-man
crew of Allegheny Power workers who went to the site of a power outage near Avonmore and the village of Salina in Bell Township, where a storm had knocked out power to about 800 customers. Moyes was the first Allegheny
Power lineman killed on the job in 12 years. According to OSHA, the citations were issued because: Workers were not trained in or familiar with safety-related work practices, or safety procedures to repair a downed
conductor while working from the ground. The company did not ensure that the workers maintained a minimum approach distance while splicing a downed conductor. Insulating sleeves were not used by workers for protection. Temporary protective grounds were not placed or arranged in such a manner as to prevent each worker from being exposed to hazardous differences in electrical potential. As a result of the fatal accident, Allegheny Power meted out suspensions without pay to three crew members for alleged safety violations. In September, Allegheny Power said an internal investigation recommended that in the future crew members conduct a "tailboard" conference
before any work is done on downed power lines. The report indicated that Moyes' crew had repaired a damaged cross-timber on one pole and was attempting to take slack out of the line being replaced when an insulator on
the damaged cross-timber shot into the air and caused the line to come into contact with an energized line. That sent 25,000 volts through the line on which Moyes, Copney and Berkebile were working.

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