ODELL – A wind farm servicing company could be fined $378,000 after an employee received severe burns at a Livingston County wind farm last fall.
The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration issued six willful safety citations to Outland Renewable Services, based in Canby, Minn., following investigation of an incident at the Iberdrola Streator Cayuga Ridge South Wind Farm on Oct. 20.
“This is one of the top 10 fines we have ever imposed on a company in the Midwest region, but we did so because this was an egregious safety violation and the company knew what the proper procedures were, but did not follow them,” Scott Allen, OSHA public affairs director, said Tuesday.
The company said it plans to appeal.
The $600 million wind farm in eastern Livingston County is owned by Iberdrola Renewables and is near the villages of Odell and Emington. It went online about a year ago.
An unidentified worker suffered third-degree burns to his neck, chest and arms and second-degree burns to the face as a result of an electrical shock that occurred when a transformer was unexpectedly turned on by a co-worker, according to an OSHA press release.
Steve Scott, Outland president and chief operating officer, said safety is the company’s top priority and Outland has a strong safety record.
“We respectfully disagree with OSHA’s initial findings but we look forward to working collaboratively with them to resolve this issue,” he said. “Outland has already taken steps to ensure that an accident like this does not happen again. Furthermore, we’re thankful that the employee who was injured has returned to work.”
On the day of the incident, Outland failed to ensure employees working in wind farm towers properly disconnected power at ground level, Allen said.
The violations in this case fall under the requirements of OSHA’s Severe Violators Enforcement Program, which targets companies that potentially put their workers in the most dangerous situations.
Outland has 15 days to appeal.
OSHA officials said the wind energy sector is growing rapidly, but that growth also comes with a continued responsibility for employers to ensure the health and safety of employees.
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