Fined by OSHA

Outside the Fulton Co. Jail, 11.18.09

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined WSB $5000 for safety violations surrounding its live truck accident in November.

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.

Leonard Raglin, WSB

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.

Tom Jones, WSB

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.

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Doug Richards is a reporter at WXIA-TV. This is his personal blog. WXIA-TV has nothing whatsoever to do with this blog, under any circumstances, in any form. For anything written herein, Doug accepts sole credit and full blame. Follow him on Twitter: @richardsdoug. All rights reserved. Thanks for visiting.

14 thoughts on “Fined by OSHA

  1. Dave

    I was wondering if we’d ever find out what happened. A $5000 fine? Doesn’t seem like a whole lot considering 2 lives could have been lost. Guess between the loss of a live truck, equipment and if they paid the city of Atlanta for repairs, WSB took a monetary hit. I’m not saying WSB got away with anything, only I’d expect OSHA to apply heavier fines for infractions that could have potentially cost two lives.

    I also think these two statements contradict each other.
    “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.”

    “Both men bunny-hopped out of the vehicle to safety (per their training).”

    I’m glad Leonard & Tom are doing well, I know their lives are worth more than $5000. I wonder though, what changes have been made to insure the safety of it’s reporters & photographers when in a live truck.

    Reply
  2. Shawn in Grant Park

    WSB got off easy with only a $5000 fine. OSHA has been out & about hitting up the remaining manufacturing base left in Georgia; Their new directive seems to be “fine as much as possible, because we need the money”. The Atlanta region just hired more Compliance Officers this year. Pretty interesting timing since both manufacturing and construction are in a down cycle.

    OSHA has really given some big fines concerning the lack of Electrical Safe Work Practices training, sometimes in the $150k range. I’m really surprised about the fine.

    Reply
  3. juanita driggs

    When it comes to 2 covering the news, apparently what’s good for the goose isn’t always good for the gander.

    Reply
  4. Pingback: Fined by OSHA « live apartment fire | OSHA & Hazwoper

  5. jimmyjohn

    Gee, I haven’t seen this live, local and latebreaking on the station that gives you the coverage you can count on. Someone needs to be asking some tough questions unless of course this isn’t the news that actually helps.

    Reply
  6. Pingback: Atlanta Blogs Today: OSHA slaps WSB, Atlanta’s first parking deck, Graves gets official… and more | atlanta.rssible.com

  7. SpaceyG

    Dear LAF”s Consumer Action Center:
    I never received “Bunny Hop” training when working in news production. Can I sue someone now? Is there something on YouTube where we can see just what the heck “Bunny Hop” training looks like?
    Thanks,
    Spacey

    Reply
    1. Mr. Bear

      From different sites:

      “If you’re in a car, stay there until help arrives. If the car is on fire and you need to get out, do not touch the ground and the car at the same time- the electrical current could pass through your body and electrocute you. Jump as far clear from the vehicle as you can and then bunny hop or shuffle your feet until you are a safe distance from the car and wire. The key is to keep your feet as close together as possible.”

      “If your feet were apart, you’d get voltage in a path from one foot to the other, being at voltage value difference at left foot versus right foot.”

      Reply
    2. Mr. Bear

      Okay, for inquiring minds that want to know:

      If you want musical accompaniment with this bunny hop, there’s “I’m Alive” by Electric Light Orchestra. Have a safe day.

      Reply
  8. spaceyg

    Don’cha just love the YouTube?! How did we ever live without it? I knew there was a video out there somewhere. Thanks for posting, Mr. B!

    Reply
    1. Mr. Bear

      I was having a hard time visualizing the bunny hop myself (confusing it with the response needed when about to be struck by lightning), thus the online searching. It wasn’t all that hard to find, but I find two things interesting about this video.

      1). It came from just up the road in Monroe, courtesy of the Walton EMC. And nicely done, too.

      2). What was the casting call like for this tape? I mean, you couldn’t really have one of the line repair crews doing it since it was important for everybody in this situation. You couldn’t have the babe in high heels, for obvious reasons. (Although that might have enhanced the video’s view count). I’m sure that they didn’t pay scale for the work. You needed someone who had credibility….. And, once you’ve seen the “bunny hop”, you know what they’re talking about.

      Reply

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