Verizon Fined For Technician’s Death In Brooklyn
Verizon was fined more than $140,000 — the maximum allowed by law — for safety violations after the 2011 electrocution death of a technician in Brooklyn, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced on Monday.
The administration found that Verizon repeatedly failed to abide by safety rules in place to protect its workers, and issued 10 citations against the company. The technician, Douglas Lalima, was working on overhead cables from inside a bucket truck in Brownsville last September when he was electrocuted. Witnesses watched in horror as his body caught fire.
Verizon repeatedly failed to provide Mr. Lalima and other technicians with life-saving equipment, the investigation found, and did not ensure that protective helmets and gloves were used during dangerous work operations. The administration also determined that Verizon did not provide adequate training to technicians who worked near high voltage lines, and that the company failed to list Mr. Lalima’s death as a fatality in the required records.
A spokesman for Verizon, John Bonomo, said in a statement: “Verizon regrets the unfortunate incident that took the life of Mr. Lalima. However, Verizon does not believe that the incident resulted from any failure of Verizon to follow any requirements of the Occupational Safety and Health Act or any other safety requirement. Verizon has extensive safety practices in place that are designed to prevent incidents like this one from occurring, and which are thoroughly and continually reviewed with employees.”
Many of the violations are repeat offenses for the company, whose safety record is among the issues that led 45,000 Verizon workers to strike last August.
“Verizon’s culture of indifference puts profits over workers’ safety,” said Chris Shelton, vice president of the Communications Workers of America District 1. “There is no way to sugarcoat this: if Douglas Lalima had the proper equipment and training, he would still be alive today.”
Verizon has 15 days to pay the fines and also must rectify the violations, or otherwise appeal the Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s findings. It said it intends to appeal.