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2 Workers Electrocuted at FL Jobsite

Friday, March 28, 2014

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Federal safety authorities say they are investigating a scaffolding accident that severely injured two workers Tuesday (March 25) in Panama City, FL.

First Baptist Church / Facebook

Two workers suffered serious injuries when scaffolding made contact with a power line in downtown Panama City, FL.

The workers—William Nunnery, 49, and Timothy Swearingen, 45—were repairing concrete on the bell tower of the First Baptist Church at heights topping 50 feet they were electrocuted, according to local news sources.

Scaffold Hits Power Line

Authorities said the workers lost control when they were lowering scaffolding from one level to another, which caused a portion of the access equipment to make contact with a live, uninsulated power line.

The workers were then electrically shocked by the charged scaffolding.  

One of the workers went into cardiac arrest and rescuers performed CPR upon arrival. The other victim suffered from third-degree burns. Both men were lowered to safety and taken to a nearby hospital. They were then transferred to a burn center in Augusta, GA, according to reports.

power lines
Wikimedia Commons

Overhead power lines pose a threat to construction workers. For more information on scaffolding safety around power lines, click here.

Police officials did not immediately respond Thursday (March 27) to a request for an update on the workers’ conditions or additional details.

Panama City Police Chief Scott Ervin told television reporters, "Given the circumstances, both of them left here alive. We're thankful for that. We wish them a speedy recovery and wish the best for them.”

Incident Under Investigation

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration said it launched its investigation on Wednesday, WMBB.com reported.

OSHA's website notes that if scaffolds are within 10 feet of uninsulated power lines they are to be de-energized by the power company.

In this case, the scaffolds were within 10 feet of the power pole, according to WMBB.com.

"Obviously nobody contacted the authority having jurisdiction over those power lines because we have a resulting shock that took place with these two employees," Brian Sturtecky, the area director for OSHA in Jacksonville reportedly told WMBB.

OSHA’s investigation could take up to six months.

About the Employer

Nunnery and Swearingen were employees of Quality Plus Services Inc., headquartered in Petersburg, VA.

A woman who answered a phone call to the company’s office in Panama City said Quality Plus did not have a comment on the incident and couldn’t provide any additional information.

Quality Plus provides mechanical, electrical, engineering and construction services to industrial, institutional and commercial customers nationwide.

According to a review of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s database, Quality Plus has a history of past safety violations.

Most recently, in 2007, the company was fined $7,500 (later reduced to $4,500) for three serious safety violations involving general safety requirements, structural steel assembly and fall protection at a job site in Illinois.

Also in 2007, Quality Plus was fined $1,000 for three safety hazards including ladder safety violations a workplace in Virginia. The company informally settled that case for $600.


Tagged categories: Access; Accidents; Concrete; Health and safety; OSHA; Scaffolding

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