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MOSH charges city with four citations

June 16, 1997


Staff Writer

The City of Hagerstown has been charged with four state citations encompassing 10 violations for the March 6 accident in which a City Light worker died, officials said Monday.

The most serious citation, deemed "willful," was issued because Ronald L. "Beaner" Jones Jr. was not wearing a safety harness while about 30 feet above the ground in a cherry picker while trying to remove a transformer, according to a Maryland Occupational Safety and Health program citation.

"If he would have had the belt on, he wouldn't have fallen out of the bucket," said Dale Valentine, MOSH's regional supervisor.


The safety belt was not worn, nor were rules enforced that dictated the belt be worn, Valentine said.

Jones, 34, an apprentice lineman, was thrown from a cherry picker as he and four other crew members worked to remove the last of five transformers from utility poles at the Hagerstown Fairgrounds, officials have said.

The winch being used snapped, causing the cherry picker's bucket to bounce, throwing Jones out, officials have said.

Jones fell about 30 feet, striking his head on the back of the city's bucket truck. Originally the fall was reported to have been from a height of about 40 feet, but Valentine said MOSH's investigation revealed it was from about 30 feet.

City Personnel Manager Eric Marburger said city officials expect to complete their own report on the accident this week. They have not yet decided whether any disciplinary action will be taken, he said.

"Everybody should make sure that everybody else is wearing their safety equipment at all times," Marburger said.

Since the accident, City Light workers have been ordered to wear full-body harnesses while on the job, he said.

Mayor Robert E. Bruchey II said Monday he had not had a chance to review the citations yet.

City Administrator Bruce Zimmerman could not be reached for comment.

Councilman Lewis C. Metzner said city officials expected to receive citations and that the mayor and City Council would discuss with city staff what action to take.

City officials have until June 30 to decide whether to contest the citations, Marburger said.

If the city contests the charges, a formal hearing will be held before a state hearing examiner, Valentine said. If the city accepts the charges, they will become the final order by the commissioner of labor and industry.

The city was not fined by MOSH. Valentine said state law does not allow the office to fine public sector employers.

Six of the violations dealt with the City Light workers' exposure to blood-borne pathogens at the accident scene, according to the charges.

Valentine said the crew should have received first aid training.

Marburger said city officials didn't think line workers needed such training.

That training is more appropriate for employees more likely to come in contact with blood, such as police officers, firefighters and lifeguards, said Jim Grafton, the city's safety coordinator.

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