KANSAS CITY, Mo. – A federal investigation finds that Kansas City, Missouri-based mechanical contracting firm US Engineering Services failed to follow procedures that would have prevented the August 2022 electrocution death of a technician at the University Academy of Kansas City , Missouri.
A release from the United States Department of Labor (DOL) states that on Aug. 24, 2022, a U.S. Engineering Services fourth-year HVAC technician “came in contact with live parts” while repairing a unit of refrigeration in the machine room of the college prep charter school, and died of electrocution.
“While the chiller fan motor was shut down using the building’s HVAC management system, no lockout and/or tagout was placed on the unit control switch to ensure electrical power was discharged from the coils and the air handling unit,” the press release states.
DOL’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) found that US Engineering Services, a US Engineering subsidiary, “failed to de-energize equipment and prevent equipment from inadvertently starting during repairs or maintenance.”
The investigation also found that the company failed to conduct hazard assessments to ensure the proper protective equipment (PPE) was in place. Investigators found that arc flash PPE, the safety gear worn by workers around energized and de-energized equipment, and lockout and tagout equipment, which help protect against exposure to hazardous energy from machinery, did not were present when the accident occurred.
A US Department of Labor release said a damaged extension cord was used at the site.
Another HVAC technician at the company “was electrocuted to death while working on a non-drained rooftop air conditioning unit of all its energy in Wichita, Kansas,” the release said.
OSHA sued KCMO for three serious and two repeat violations, along with proposed fines in the amount of $197,642.
“This worker’s death was preventable,” OSHA area director Karena Lorek said in a written statement. “Employers should follow well-known electrical safety procedures set forth in federal regulations and recognized industry practices.”