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July 31, 2014

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NV Energy faces $43,000 fine in lineman’s death

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Special to the Sun

NV Energy employee Herbie Goforth III died after a fall of almost 100 feet from a tower shortly after achieving his goal of becoming a journeyman lineman.

Updated Wednesday, March 27, 2013 | 3:30 p.m.

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Herbie Goforth III stands with his fiancee, Judy Greene.

When NV Energy lineman trainee Herbie Goforth III climbed 75 feet to work on a transmission tower in September, he was set up for disaster, an investigation by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration found.

Goforth fell to his death from a ladder while working on a 500-kilovolt transmission line in northeast Las Vegas.

NV Energy was cited for seven alleged health and safety violations, according to the OSHA investigation released Wednesday. The company faces a $43,000 fine.

“Working with lines energized at thousands of volts demands expertly trained workers clad in gear that can protect workers from shocks associated with strong electromagnetic fields,” Joy Flack, director of OSHA’s Las Vegas Area Office, said in a news release. “NV Energy spelled disaster when it failed to ensure these workers were protected from falling.”

The serious violations included failing to provide properly fitting personal protective equipment for each worker, OSHA said.

In inspecting equipment, OSHA found workers using conductive booties that were too small. They were modified with the tops cut off and secured with tape, making workers more susceptible to electrical shock and falls, OSHA said. Gloves and conductive suits also had holes and tears, OSHA said.

OSHA officials could not confirm that Goforth’s equipment had holes or did not fit correctly.

NV energy also received multiple citations involving failing to ensure that fall-arrest equipment met safety requirements.

Workers used the ladder improperly and Goforth did not use fall-protection equipment that OSHA requires for trainees any time they work more than four feet above the ground, OSHA said.

NV Energy disagreed with OSHA’s findings and plans to challenge it through the regulatory process, NV Energy officials said in a statement.

“We believe our training exercises have been conducted in accordance with industry standards and applicable regulations,” the statement said. “Most importantly, we want to emphasize that our paramount concern is the safety of our employees and we commit to best in class safety performance in all of our operations.”

NV Energy also was cited for a non-serious violation for failing to provide OSHA with injury and illness records within four hours of their request.

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