The accident took place when a WSB crew exited the parking lot of the Fulton County jail with its microwave mast raised. The mast came into contact with some 115,000 volt transmission lines above Rice Street, causing an electrical surge in the truck that slightly injured its occupants, photographer Leonard Raglin and reporter Tom Jones. The shock and a flash fire destroyed the equipment inside the truck.
The citations are public record and were supposed to be posted someplace within the WSB monolith at 1601 Peachtree St. You can download the nine-page PDF here. It’s not as enlightening as one might hope, however.
Raglin, the truck operator and a veteran photographer, had failed to stow the mast prior to driving the vehicle. Alarm systems in the truck had been disabled.
WSB was originally cited for two violations. The first says “the employee operating the vehicle D-TEC and vehicle mounted mast system was not trained on electrical related safety work practices as per manufacturer specifications. The employee was exposed to electrical hazards.”
The second says “the employees operating the vehicle D-TEC and Vehicle mounted mast system did not maintain a clearance of 10-feet from energized power lines. The employees were exposed to electrical hazards.”
OSHA spokesman Michael Wald tells LAF via e-mail that WSB met with OSHA to negotiate the final outcome. OSHA originally fined WSB $3500 each for the two citations. OSHA agreed to drop one citation, and WSB agreed to increase the fine for the remaining one to $5000. (The links and such seem to provide slightly varying information, which I can’t explain.)
Wald says WSB was cited under OSHA’s awkwardly-worded “general duty clause”: Section 5(a)(1) of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970: The employer did not furnish to each of his employees employment and a place of employment which were free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees…
Raglin and Jones were the first to admit that their nearly fatal oversight was the primary cause of the accident. Yet it’s unclear whether OSHA specifically noted the station’s failure to maintain the truck’s alarm system. It’s not mentioned in the citations.
Both Jones and Raglin suffered from burns as a result of the flash fire that erupted in the truck. Both men bunny-hopped out of the vehicle to safety (per their training). Jones was back on the air within days.
The accident also damaged pavement and water lines below the scene of the accident. That pavement has since been repaired. Presumably, the city of Atlanta billed WSB for the damage, though we haven’t asked about that.
Although WAGA and WGCL covered the accident extensively the day it happened, it’s notable that Cox-owned media — WSB and the AJC specifically — have mostly ignored it. WSB mentioned the accident on its web site the day it happened. The AJC noted it in a brief.
A sharp-eyed reader of Rodney Ho’s AJC blog (and LAF) noted that Ho posted a follow-up a day or so later (wherein he interviewed Tom Jones, similar to a post on this site) — but the post mysteriously disappeared. I’ve tried to ask Ho if Cox spiked it, but Ho won’t say.
I don’t expect to read about the OSHA fine in the AJC.