OSHA cites Duke Energy in fatal fall

Rhonda Burke, OSHA spokeswoman, said Duke Energy was found to be in violation of the general duty clause due to an unsafe workplace. She said it was found the company “failed to sufficiently determine prior to starting work the condition of the wooden utility pole.”

The accident happened Feb. 27 at the corner of Mason Morrow Millgrove and Stubbs Mill roads in South Lebanon in Union Twp. Keith Jester, 43, of Ross Twp., died after the utility pole he had been climbing broke and fell on top of him, officials said.

Burke said it was determined the pole showed signs of rotting. OSHA also determined Duke Energy hadn’t trained its workers to identify issues with wooden utility poles.

Burke said Duke Energy didn’t contest the July 14 findings by OSHA and paid its $10,000 penalty to the U.S. Department of Labor by the Aug. 19 deadline, according to an informal settlement agreement signed Aug. 5.

Sally Thelen, spokeswoman for Duke Energy, said in an emailed statement:

“Although Duke Energy does not discuss the details of settlements, I can confirm that Duke Energy has reached a settlement with OSHA. Duke Energy fully cooperated with the OSHA investigation. The violations identified in the citations have been corrected and the fine has been paid as required.

At Duke Energy we put safety first. Duke Energy will continue to focus on the safety of our customers, communities and employees; safety is paramount in all we do each day.”

Falls are the leading cause of death in the workplace, according to Burke.

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