Mar 22, 2012
CWA Local 1109 member Doug Lalima with his family.
Federal officials slapped Verizon with a heavy fine Monday for "repeat and serious" workplace safety violations linked to the death of technician Douglas Lalima, a member of CWA Local 1109, last fall.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited the company for 10 violations totaling $14,700 — the maximum penalty under the law — after it failed to provide Lalima and his fellow technicians with life-saving equipment, such as insulated gloves. Lalima, a 37-year-old father of four, was in a cherry picker installing steel suspension strands in Brooklyn last September, when he was electrocuted and burst into flames.
The inspection found that the steel suspension strands had not been grounded during installation. Employees were not wearing hard hats, and protective equipment had not been inspected. The technicians — including Lalima, a 15-year veteran of the company — had not been adequately trained in safe work precautions.
Furthermore, Verizon neglected to list Lalima's death as a fatality in its requisite records.
"OSHA's fines and citation against Verizon confirm what thousands of technicians on the ground already know: Verizon's culture of indifference puts profits over workers' safety," said Chris Shelton, vice president of CWA District 1. "There is no way to sugarcoat this: if Douglas Lalima had the proper equipment and training, he would still be alive today."
In 2007, Verizon had been cited for similar hazards following the death of a Rhode Island worker who was also doing work near exposed live wires. Another New York lineman was electrocuted doing work similar to Lalima's in 2002, and other Verizon workers have been fatally electrocuted in recent years while working at sites in Indiana, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts and Maryland.
"The recurring nature of some of these hazards is disturbing," said Kay Gee, OSHA's area director for Brooklyn, Manhattan and Queens.