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OSHA finds Kansas City company failed to re-protect workers

A Kansas City engineering services firm failed to protect an employee who was electrocuted while servicing a heating and cooling system last summer — the second such death at the company in just over a year, according to a federal investigation.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has proposed a fine of nearly $200,000 after federal investigators found that the U.S. Engineering Services failed to follow required procedures that would have prevented the worker’s death, according to a Department news release. of US labor.

“Safety is a core value to our organization, and we are committed to the health and safety of everyone on our team,” said Brendan Rittel, chief financial officer and general counsel of US Engineering Company Holdings. “We look forward to continuing our work with OSHA on this matter. However, as these subpoenas remain open to appeal, we have no further comment at this time.”

A fourth-year apprentice heating, ventilation and air conditioning technician for the company was electrocuted while repairing a heating and cooling system on August 24 at the University’s Academy charter school at 6801 Holmes Road.

“The death of this worker was avoidable. Employers must follow well-known electrical safety procedures set forth in federal regulations and recognized industry practices,” said Karena Lorek, OSHA Area Director of Kansas City.

“Companies whose employees work with electricity must take all necessary steps to ensure they are protected from dangerous electrical hazards so they can go home safely.”

OSHA found that US Engineering Services, a subsidiary of US Engineering, failed to de-energize equipment and prevent equipment from unintentionally starting during repairs or maintenance, according to the news release.

The company also failed to conduct risk assessments to identify field employee personal protective equipment needs at workplaces and allowed a damaged extension cord to be used at the site.

At the time of the electrocution, the worker was cleaning a refrigeration unit in the school’s machine room. While the fan motor was off, neither a lockout nor a tagout was placed on the control switch to ensure that electrical power was discharged from the air handler coils, according to the release.

Investigators also determined that neither arc flash protectors nor lockout and tagout equipment were in place at the time of the accident. OSHA sued the U.S. Engineering Services for three serious and two repeat violations and proposed a fine of $197,642 in penalties.

The breaches were similar to those identified after another company technician was electrocuted in July 2021 in Wichita. The company settled the case and paid an OSHA-assessed nearly $37,000 fine.

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