ADGER, AL – A federal workplace safety investigation into the fatal electrocutions of two 19-year-old apprentices in Adger on Aug. 31, 2021, found their employer might have prevented the incident by ensuring required safety standards were followed, and that adequate supervision and training was provided.
The incident occurred as the two young apprentices of Pike Electric LLC in Mount Airy worked on a 7,200-volt electric distribution line to restore power after a severe summer storm.
Investigators with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration determined Pike Electric allowed the workers to repair a downed power line without ensuring the removal of all jumpers from the power source, and failed to train workers to competently recognize electrical hazards and know the required safety procedures to address the existing hazards.
In addition, OSHA found the energy services provider failed to have an adequate number of people with first-aid training for the crew, as they performed field work on exposed lines and energized equipment. The investigation identified three serious violations for which OSHA has proposed $43,506 in penalties.
“Two young people suffered fatal electrocution because Pike Electric LLC failed to meet their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace and ensure the proper supervision of new workers,” said OSHA Area Director Ramona Morris in Birmingham. “Pike Electric should know the steps needed to isolate live electrical sources before making repairs on a downed electrical line and be acutely aware of the dangers. Not following safety precautions and ensuring workers understand the dangers when lives are on the line is inexcusable.”
In 2020, 126 workers lost their lives from exposure to electricity on the job, the Bureau of Labor Statistics reports. Employment of electricians is projected to grow nine percent from 2020 to 2030, and most workers enter the field through apprenticeship.
Based in Mount Airy, Pike Electric LLC provides transmission, distribution and substation construction services as well as emergency storm response. It is a subsidiary of Pike Corp., an electric, gas and telecommunications provider with about 10,000 employees and 100 office locations.
The company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.
Under the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, employers are responsible for providing safe and healthful workplaces for their employees. OSHA’s role is to ensure these conditions for America’s workers by setting and enforcing standards, and providing training, education and assistance.