OSHA cites Anchorage FAA facility for safety violations

Posted: Sunday, September 03, 2000

ANCHORAGE (AP) -- The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration has issued a number of safety violations against the Federal Aviation Administration's regional traffic control center here.

OSHA said the Air Route Traffic Control Center left live parts exposed on electrical outlet boxes, blocked quick access to high-voltage control panels needed for emergency shut-offs, failed to cover dangerous rotating equipment and didn't provide the required safety training.

The allegations were included in a 15-page report released Wednesday.

Safety failures identified by an FAA internal investigation in July 1999 also were ignored, said Carl Halgren, acting area director for OSHA.

A private company would have been fined $105,500, an amount that ranks it as a ''significant case'' typically reached by fewer than 175 workplaces each year, Halgren said. Federal law precludes OSHA from fining another federal agency.

The FAA must file an abatement plan within 15 days.

The FAA issued a statement from Washington, D.C., saying the violations were a result of a routine inspection in February.

FAA officials said they took immediate steps to address the problems.

''In a spirit of continuing cooperation,'' the FAA will address any remaining questions, the statement said, adding that ''the safety of our employees is of paramount importance.''

The citations took six months to issue because they were serious enough to require a review at OSHA's regional and national headquarters, Halgren said.

The Anchorage Air Traffic Control Center is one of 21 regional centers in the United States that handle airline traffic once it's 30 miles beyond an airport.

The Alaska center coordinates domestic and international flights as well as rural Alaska routes. It employs more than 100 people.

The OSHA citations included one ''willful violation,'' typically defined as one where the employer was aware of a serious hazard and didn't correct it. The citation follows an electrical accident March 8 that nearly killed a worker, Halgren said.

''This is something that we don't use very often,'' Halgren said. ''The FAA management knew about it, and they didn't take any steps to correct it.''

The worker was on an aluminum ladder reinstalling a fluorescent light fixture after some plumbing repairs when he was shocked, Halgren said. Seriously injured, the worker spent several days in a hospital intensive care unit, he said.

His supervisors knew the area was still energized but instructed him to do the work, anyway, Halgren said.

Workers reported the incident to OSHA. Unless there's a fatality or three workers are hospitalized, a company is not required to contact OSHA.

The employee since has recovered and has returned to work, FAA officials said.

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