December 8, 2023

Federal investigators propose $29,000 fine against construction company

The construction company that employed a worker who died of an accidental electric shock at…

The construction company that employed a worker who died of an accidental electric shock at a work site in Spring Township violated several labor standards, an investigation carried out by the federal agency that oversees workplace safety found.

The U.S. Labor Department’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration proposed a $29,000 fine against Abel Construction Co., federal investigators wrote in a 13-page document obtained Friday by the Centre Daily Times.

It was unclear if the company planned to contest the citations; an executive did not immediately respond Friday to a request for comment. An appeal must be filed within 15 business days of Monday.

Anthony R. V. Laterzo, 27, of Clearfield County, was killed in October while he and other employees were excavating a trench to install a sewer line at a new housing development along the 500 block of Rolling Ridge Drive, Spring Township police said.

Laterzo was in a ditch when the operator of an excavator came in contact with an overhead, energized power line, investigators wrote. The electricity found its way to Laterzo, who was standing about 42 feet away, police said.

Investigators found a handful of serious violations that exposed workers to electrical hazards.

The construction company did not properly ensure the power lines were insulated, not energized or grounded before conducting any work. The company also failed to make sure the excavator could not come in contact with the power line and did not designate an employee to observe clearance from the power lines, OSHA wrote.

About one-fifth of the 4,764 workplace fatalities reported nationwide in 2020 were among the construction industry, according to statistics provided by a bureau within the Labor Department.

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Bret Pallotto primarily reports on courts and crime for the Centre Daily Times. He was raised in Mifflin County and graduated from Lock Haven University.