Today we filed suit against a power company on behalf of a client who alleges that he was fired after objecting to an extremely dangerous workplace hazard. He asserts that he was asked to work in a hole dug by coworkers that was partially filled with water. The hole was within several feet of an electrical transformer box, and his worksite lacked the proper “locator flags” to tell the client where high-voltage cables leading up to the box were buried.
The typical voltage in wires or cables leading up to neighborhood transformer boxes, also known as distribution transformers, can vary depending on the location and the electrical distribution system in use. In general, the voltage in these wires or cables is typically in the range of 7,200 to 34,500 volts. A rule of thumb is that an electric shock at or above 2,700 will often result in severe injury or death.
Locator flags around a transformer box signal that there are underground utilities, including electrical lines, in the area. The flags are used by utility companies and contractors to mark the location of the utilities and indicate where excavation work should not be performed. They vary by color, with red indicating electrical lines.
After our client objected to unsafe working conditions, he was fired.
The OSHA General Duty Clause
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) General Duty Clause is a federal law that requires employers to provide a safe and healthy work environment for their employees. The law requires employers to keep their workplace free from recognized hazards that are causing or are likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.
The OSHA General Duty Clause applies to all employers who are covered by the Occupational Safety and Health Act, which includes most private sector employers and some public sector employers, such as state and local governments. The law applies to all workplaces in the United States, regardless of size or industry.
Under the General Duty Clause, employers are required to identify and address any hazards that may cause harm to their employees. This includes providing training and equipment to employees, implementing safety procedures and protocols, and maintaining a safe work environment. Employers who fail to comply with the General Duty Clause can be cited and fined by OSHA, and in extreme cases, may face criminal penalties.
Have You Been Exposed to Unsafe Working Conditions?
Some employers assure their employees to work in extremely hazardous environments. There are many laws protecting workers in these situations. But, if this applies to you, you have to make the complaint in the proper manner. If you decide it’s time to make a complaint, you should schedule a free consultation with an employee rights lawyer to learn about the right and wrong way to blow the whistle on unlawful or unsafe conditions. If you’d like to talk to us, please call 800-663-7999 for a completely free and confidential phone consultation.
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