Utility contractor fined over deaths of workers in Alabama

Published 9:08 pm Wednesday, March 9, 2022

Federal regulators fined a North Carolina electrical contractor more than $40,000 following the deaths of two young apprentices who were electrocuted while repairing downed utility lines after a storm in Alabama last year.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration announced the penalties Tuesday against Pike Electric of Mount Airy, North Carolina.

The company, with 10,000 employees, was repairing electrical lines in Adger, located about 23 miles (37 kilometers) southwest of Birmingham, when the workers were killed on Aug. 31, 2021. The Jefferson County Coroner’s Office identified the victims as Eli Nathaniel Babb of Kellyton and Layton River Ellison, both 19, of Alexandria.

Investigators determined the company let the workers repair a 7,200-volt distribution line without taking all the proper safety steps and without sufficient training. Pike Electric also didn’t have enough people with first aid training on the crew, OSHA said.

“Two young people suffered fatal electrocution because Pike Electric LLC failed to meet their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthful workplace and ensure the proper supervision of new workers,” Ramona Morris, OSHA’s area director in Birmingham, said in a statement.

Pike Electric did not immediately respond to messages sent by email and a social media account on Wednesday seeking comment.

The company has 15 days to pay fines totaling $43,506 or to contest the penalties, the agency said.