NV Energy fined $43K in worker's fall death - FOX5 Vegas - KVVU

NV Energy fined $43K in worker's fall death

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Herbie Goforth with fiancée and FOX5 AM Executive Producer Judy Greene. (Courtesy of Judy Greene) Herbie Goforth with fiancée and FOX5 AM Executive Producer Judy Greene. (Courtesy of Judy Greene)

Multiple failures to provide adequate safety equipment in a fall that claimed the life of a utility worker resulted in a $43,000 fine for NV Energy.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) released Wednesday its citation of the southern Nevada power company in reference to the Sept. 25, 2012 death of Herbie Goforth III.

In the OSHA citation, inspectors penalized NV Energy on multiple equipment failures that exposed workers to hazards. The company was also penalized for not ensuring adequate safety equipment that could have prevented Goforth's fatal 75-foot fall.

OSHA said a temporary horizontal ladder was used as a platform between a transmission tower and a live 500-kilovolt transmission line in the incident.

Among the penalties in the citation, inspectors said NV Energy "did not ensure personal fall arrest equipment." OSHA said linemen's belts and six-foot pole straps were used instead of a fall protection harnesses and lanyards at the time.

In addition, the citation said the workers on the training session that Goforth was on used a horizontal ladder, or platform, that was not designed to serve as a "personal fall arrest system."

The citation goes on to penalize the company for holes or tears in workers' suits, booties and gloves. Inspectors, in the citation, said those holes exposed the worker to possible electrocution.

In total, OSHA cited NV Energy for six "serious" penalties related to the fall at $7,000 each. A $1,000 fine was also assessed for NV Energy's delayed response in providing OSHA with records relating to the incident. In the citation, OSHA said the company took four hours after the incident to provide those records.

An OSHA representative said the citations were issued to NV Energy on March 21. The company has until April 15 to pay the fine. The citation said the company can also contest the penalties.

On Wednesday, NV Energy released a statement on the citations:

We are now in receipt of the OSHA findings associated with the tragic loss of one of our employees last fall. The Company is currently reviewing the details to determine our next steps. Because our business can be a dangerous one, the most important thing to us as a company is the continued safety of our employees. All of our training exercises for this type of work continue to be within industry standards. We are committed to being a leader in safe work practices and diligent adherence to Federal and State requirements regarding the safety of our employees.

Goforth died during a training session on a 100-foot tower at Apex Industrial Park in the 18000 block of Las Vegas Boulevard North.

Goforth attended Cimarron Memorial High School and graduated from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas in 2007.

Goforth was engaged to be married to FOX5 morning executive producer Judy Greene. The fall happened just 11 days before their planned wedding.

"Herbie was an amazing and special person," Greene said.

"He's never done this work, he just became a journeyman lineman, this was training ... he said, 'Nothing is going to happen to me because I trust these men with my life,'" Greene told FOX5.

Greene said she is frustrated NV Energy didn't spend more on better equipment.

"This company is a multi-billion dollar company ... how come they can't provide safety equipment?" Greene asked.

"And they allowed him to go that way, knowing that he didn't have the proper gear on. So I feel like they killed him," Rosa Goforth, Herbie Goforth's mother, said.

Herbie Goforth's family said they feel the OSHA fine is just a slap on the wrist.

"What they're saying is my son's life is worth $43,000," said Rosa Goforth.

Greene and Rosa Goforth feel OSHA's recommended changes should have been made sooner.

They hope Herbie Goforth's death helps other linemen.

"I just want change," Rosa Goforth said.

"I want to make sure that this never happens to another person, and they need to buy that proper equipment and stop, stop putting lives at risk," Greene said.

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