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OSHA, Union, Contractors Form Alliance to Reduce Worker Exposure to Electrical Hazards

ATLANTA -- The U.S. Department of Labor's Occupation Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) announced an alliance with labor unions and employers in the Southeast to save lives, avoid injuries and teach young workers how to work safely with electricity. This alliance is a voluntary, cooperative effort to promote a national dialogue on workplace safety and health through communication, training and education. OSHA Health and Safety partnerships are part of Secretary Elaine L. Chao's ongoing efforts to improve the health and safety of workers through cooperative partnerships of labor unions and employers.

The new alliance was formalized in a signing ceremony in College Park, Ga. Alliance members include OSHA's Atlanta regional office, the fifth and tenth districts of the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers (IBEW), the Southeastern Line Constructors Chapter of the National Electrical Contractors Association (NECA), and the Southeastern Line Constructors Apprenticeship and Training Council (SELCAT).

"This alliance is an example of Secretary of Labor Elaine L. Chao's commitment to foster compliance assistance for workers and employers to improve health and safety for workers," said Cindy Coe Laseter, OSHA's regional administrator in Atlanta. "It demonstrates that this segment of the Southeast's electrical industry recognizes the need for us to all work together to address serious safety concerns."

From Oct. 1, 1999 to Sept. 30, 2002, OSHA investigated 137 fatal accidents in Georgia, Alabama, Florida and Mississippi that resulted from contact with live electrical sources. Of these accidents, 65 involved contact with energized power transmission lines and associated equipment.

Eliminating the major contributing factors involved in these fatalities is one goal of the alliance. In each of these four states, experienced and apprentice electrical workers will attend training sessions to improve their ability to recognize and maintain a safe working distance from power sources; use proper grounding techniques, and wear proper protective equipment.

Coe Laseter signed the alliance for OSHA. Other signatories include C. Stephen Gaines, Jr., chapter manager, Southeastern Line Constructors Chapter, NECA; Melvin W. Horton, vice-president, Fifth District, IBEW; Robert P. Klein, vice-president, Tenth District, IBEW; and Virgil W. Melton, training director, SELCAT.

The signing ceremony was held on Friday, Sept. 26, at the SELCAT facility, 3580 Flat Shoals Rd., College Park, Ga.

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