Dec 5, 2013
After more than two years, justice has finally been served for Douglas LaLima, a lineman and member of CWA Local 1109, who was tragically electrocuted while placing strand in Brooklyn.
Verizon has been found guilty of multiple violations of the OSHA Telecommunications Standard and fined $147,000 for repeat violations of not ensuring that linemen used insulating rubber gloves while placing strand on joint use poles and not making certain that the strand is temporarily grounded while being placed. Verizon also faces one serious violation for not providing adequate training.
The company now must provide enhanced electrical safety training and other safeguards to its New York field technicians who install suspension strand on utility poles that carry power lines. This landmark stipulated settlement agreement covers Verizon New York and affects all line personnel and line garages in the state.
"It is not the amount of the fines, which are limited by law, which is ultimately important. No amount of money can ever make up for the loss of a person's life. What is important is that Verizon is being held accountable for their negligence and they must now take specific actions to provide for a safer work environment," CWA District 1 Vice President Chris Shelton told CWA Locals. "While it is sad and unconscionable that this is what it took for the company to do what they should have been doing all along, this is a positive and much needed step toward preventing another death of this kind in the future."
Verizon poured resources into fighting all of their OSHA citations, but could not make a case. Because of its two repeat violations – based on the death of Jarrod Lyon, a lineman from CWA Local 1126, in 2002 – Verizon is now on the OSHA Severe Violator list and will be subject to additional oversight.
"While no settlement can bring this worker back to his family, co-workers and friends, this agreement can help prevent similar and needless tragedies in the future," said Robert Kulick, OSHA's regional administrator in New York. "It commits Verizon New York to provide enhanced and specific training for its field technicians on the hazards involved with installing suspension strand on utility poles carrying power lines. Such training will also reinforce management's commitment to safe practices."