News Column

OSHA Finds 60 Alleged Health, Safety Violations at Hoover Dam

Jan 15, 2013

Eli Segall

Federal workplace safety regulators say they have found nearly 60 health and safety violations at Hoover Dam, painting a bleak picture of working conditions at the iconic hydroelectric power plant.

The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, announced Monday it found 50 "serious" and eight repeat violations at the dam 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. About 250 people work at the plant, which opened in 1935 and is operated by the U.S. Department of Interior's Bureau of Reclamation.

A "serious" violation is one that has a high chance of causing death or serious injury. The 50 allegedly serious violations at Hoover Dam included fall and electrical hazards, a lack of required machinery guards, inadequate personal protective equipment, lead contamination and the potential for overexposure to hexavalent chromium, OSHA said.

High levels of exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer, respiratory irritation and damage to the eyes and skin, the agency has said.

OSHA also noted violations for failing to properly maintain and inspect firefighting equipment, providing unobstructed access to emergency exits and insufficient "lockout" procedures for energy sources that "could lead to amputations."

The eight repeat violations alleged by OSHA included failure to: anchor a drill press, implement proper machine guarding, correct multiple electrical violations and properly mount and maintain portable fire extinguishers.

In a prepared statement posted on its website, the Bureau of Reclamation said Monday it has taken "aggressive steps" to address the problems outlined in the report.

The bureau said none of the identified issues "jeopardized the safety of the general public or threatened the structural integrity of the dam or dam operations."

The bureau said it has already corrected some of the problems listed in the report, including that a drill press was not mounted to a bench, equipment lacked the necessary guards and electrical panels did not have proper labels.

"Although one violation is one too many, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the issues raised are fixed and do not happen again," Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp said in the statement.

Source: (c)2013 the Las Vegas Sun (Las Vegas, Nev.). Distributed by MCT Information Services.

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