Outland Renewable Energy has been issued six citations from the U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) for willful safety violations after a wind farm technician suffered severe burns from an electrical arc flash on Oct. 20, 2010.
OSHA issued the citations following an investigation at Iberdrola's Streator Cayuga Ridge South wind farm near Odell, Ill. Outland Renewable Energy, a servicing and maintenance provider in the wind tower industry, faces proposed penalties of $378,000.
Outland Renewable Services was issued the citations for exposing maintenance technicians to electrical hazards from the unexpected energization of transformers in three wind turbine towers. A willful violation is one committed with intentional knowing or voluntary disregard for the law's requirements, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health, according to OSHA.
Steve Scott, president and chief operating officer of Outland Renewable Energy, said the company's number one priority is the safety of its employees.
‘We respectfully disagree with OSHA's initial findings but we look forward to working collaboratively with them to resolve this issue,’ he said in a statement. ‘Outland has already taken steps to ensure that an accident like this does not happen again. Furthermore, we're thankful that the employee who was injured has returned to work. Since OSHA proceedings regarding this incident are still ongoing, Outland is not able to comment further at this time.’
On the day of the incident, Outland Renewable Services failed to ensure technicians working in wind farm towers affixed their own energy-isolation devices – also known as personal lock and tag devices – on the tower turbine switchgear at ground level, according to OSHA.
This created the possibility for other workers to energize transformers in the turbine towers, upon which technicians were working at a distance of approximately 350 feet above ground. The injured worker suffered third-degree burns to his neck, chest and arms, and second-degree burns to the face as a result of an arc flash that occurred when a transformer was unexpectedly energized by another worker.
Outland Renewable Energy has 15 business days from receipt of its citations and penalties to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA's area director or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.