OSHA investigating October accident at Tampa Electric’s Big Bend facility

LUIS SANTANA   |   Times
Aerial view of the Tampa Electric Big Bend power station. [Sunday, August 13, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
LUIS SANTANA | Times Aerial view of the Tampa Electric Big Bend power station. [Sunday, August 13, 2017] [Photo Luis Santana | Times]
Published March 12
Updated March 12

TAMPA — The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating an October accident at Tampa Electric Co.’s Big Bend Power Station. The incident left two contractors injured and resulted in two lawsuits by the men against the utility. According to the agency, there is an "active inspection" underway.

Tampa Electric spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said an investigation is typical after a worker is hospitalized and that the utility has been "working closely" with the agency since the investigation’s start.

The contractors — Donald Gansner and James Carter — were employed by Zachry Industrial Inc. at the time and went to the Apollo Beach facility to repair a leak for the cooling system of one of the plant’s boilers.

Related coverage: Contractors sue Tampa Electric for injuries from October accident>

According to lawsuits filed by the men against Tampa Electric, excessive pressure caused the leaking door to blow off and send a column of water at the contractors two feet in diameter. Gansner, one lawsuit said, can no longer work, and Carter has a pressure fracture in his spine according to the other suit.

This is OSHA’s second recent investigation into Tampa Electric at its Big Bend facility. The agency fined the utility $126,749 for what it called a "willful" violation — one of its most serious designations — following an accident in June. Tampa Electric has appealed the fine. Five workers were killed after attempting to perform a maintenance procedure that Tampa Electric knew was dangerous.

Related coverage:Two workers injured at Tampa Electric power plant>

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Contact this reporter at [email protected] or (727) 892-2249. Follow @malenacarollo.

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