OSHA Fines W. Va. Companies for Safety Hazards

August 25, 2005

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited American Electric Power Company Inc. and its subsidiary Appalachian Power Company for alleged worker safety and health violations involving asbestos at the Phillip Sporn generating plant in New Haven, W.Va., and proposed $110,000 in penalties.

American Electric Power (AEP) is an energy production and distribution company. Appalachian Power Company, one of seven regional utility companies owned by American Electric Power, has electrical generation facilities in Virginia and West Virginia that employ several hundred workers.

OSHA initiated its inspection on Feb. 24, 2005 in response to a complaint alleging that Fluor Maintenance Service, a contractor performing boiler repair services for Appalachian Power Company, exposed its employees to asbestos at the New Haven worksite. The investigation yielded two willful citations, with a penalty of $110,000.

“Appalachian Power Company did not notify Fluor Maintenance Service of the confirmed presence of asbestos despite knowing that the contractor’s employees were going to work on the area in question,” said Stan Elliott, area director of OSHA’s Charleston office. “This was in direct conflict with the company’s written asbestos program.”

The alleged willful violations include the company’s failure to determine the presence of asbestos prior to a contactor beginning work and failure to communicate the results of asbestos samples prior to work commencing that resulted in potential exposure.

Fluor Maintenance Service was also cited for one alleged serious violation due to its failure to require employees potentially exposed to asbestos to decontaminate their clothing. The contractor was fined $1,875.

OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with an intentional disregard of, or plain indifference to, the requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act and regulations. A serious violation is a condition where there is a substantial possibility that death or serious physical harm can result to an employee.

Each company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to request and participate in an informal conference with the OSHA area director or to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

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