On Thursday, a 38-year-old utility worker employed on a project in Menifee died as a result of an accident at work. The incident reportedly involved underground equipment, upon which routine maintenance was being performed. According to sources, the project was in an underground vault, which powers a nearby desalination plant. The underground vault is apparently feed by 12,000 volt transmission lines.
In addition to the one death, several other utility workers were taken to local hospitals for smoke inhalation. Southern California Edison, the company that employed the workers, says it is still not sure how the accident occurred, but it does not appear that it was caused by a copper theft incident on Wednesday. That incident resulted in loss of power for 22,000 Edison customers.
Southern California Edison is investigating the accident. An inspector from the state Division of Occupational Safety and Health responded to the scene and confirmed that the lineman was electrocuted. It isn't clear whether more investigations from OSHA will be forthcoming.
Without commenting directly upon this incident, it is interesting to note that the recent fertilizer plant explosion in Texas is now being seen as a sign of weak federal oversight. That plant, located near Waco, Texas, had not been inspected by OSHA since 1985. The recent explosion killed as many as 15 workers and injured over 160 others.
Workplace harm can range from the mild to the very serious, to the fatal. When workers are harmed because of the negligence of their employer, legal action can be taken to achieve some measure of compensation.
Source: NBC Southern California, "SoCal Edison Employee Dies While Working on Menifee Project," April 25, 2013