Hagerstown to contest MOSH charges

July 11, 1997


Staff Writer

Hagerstown officials are planning to contest charges by state safety officials concerning the March 6 accident in which a City Light worker died, the city administrator said Friday.

"We'll probably contest all of them," Bruce Zimmerman said.

The city was charged in June by the Maryland Occupational Safety and Health program with four state citations encompassing 10 violations following the accident that led to the death of Ronald L. "Beaner" Jones Jr.

The most serious citation, deemed "willful," was issued because Jones was not wearing a safety harness while about 30 feet above the ground in a cherry picker while trying to remove a transformer.


City officials will contest the classification of that charge as "willful," Zimmerman said. "We don't think it was willful."

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

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

"There's no question this was a horrible accident and we need to learn from that," Zimmerman said.

City Light's department manager and supervisors will be conducting unscheduled safety checks on crews in the field to ensure safety precautions are being taken, he said.

Similar checks will be made in other departments, including water, sewer and public works.

Before the March 6 accident City Light had an excellent safety record, Zimmerman said. No work days had been lost due to a work-related injury for one year, he said.

"We're going to work harder. That's the lesson we've learned," Zimmerman said.

City officials also will contest six violations dealing with the City Light workers' exposure to blood-borne pathogens at the accident scene, Zimmerman said.

They want to clarify with MOSH officials whether City Light and other city utility employees need to be equipped with gowns and gloves as well as receive shots for Hepatitis B, Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman said city officials want to ensure they understand MOSH officials' expectations regarding safety regulations as well as make sure MOSH officials are applying the safety regulations appropriately to city departments.

City officials also will contest a charge dealing with a city employee who wasn't wearing a helmet while standing below employees using a cherry picker, Zimmerman said.

That incident occurred after the accident when an employee in the bucket was taking pictures, he said.

MOSH investigator Roger Campbell said city officials have until July 31 to formally contest the charges.

If the matter is not settled by attorneys, it will be heard by an administrative judge in Washington County or Baltimore.

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