The Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has ordered Verizon to pay more than $140,000 for safety violations related to the death of a technician in Brooklyn, N.Y., last year.
OSHA issued Verizon 10 citations resulting from the death of technician Douglas Lalima last September. Lalima was in a bucket truck on some overhead cables when he caught on fire as witnesses looked on.
Verizon didn't provide necessary lifesaving gear to Lalima and his fellow technicians, OSHA said, and didn't make sure that workers wore protective helmets and gloves, The New York Times reported. OSHA added that Verizon failed to give technicians property training for working around high-voltage lines. On top of all that, Lalima's death reportedly wasn't listed as a fatality in its records.
The $140,000 fine is the maximum allowed in such a case.
“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," John Bonomo, a Verizon spokesman, said in a statement published by the Times. "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."
Union officials agree with OSHA's decision.
“Verizon’s culture of indifference puts profits over workers’ safety," Chris Shelton, vice president of the Communications Workers of America District 1, told the Times. “There is no way to sugarcoat this: If Douglas Lalima had the proper equipment and training, he would still be alive today."
The phone giant was given 15 days to pay up and offer a remedy for the violations, but it plans to appeal the findings.