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Federal safety agency opening investigation into Tampa Electric death

A contractor died at Big Bend Power Station after falling from scaffolding.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is opening up an investigation into a contractor death at Big Bend Power Station. Pictured is the power plant in 2017. | [Luis Santana | Times (2017)]
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is opening up an investigation into a contractor death at Big Bend Power Station. Pictured is the power plant in 2017. | [Luis Santana | Times (2017)]
Published Feb. 23
Updated Feb. 23

The federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration is opening an investigation into a death at Tampa Electric Co.’s plant.

A contractor died Monday after falling from scaffolding at Big Bend Power Station. The man, whose name has not been released, worked on Tampa Electric’s sites for over a decade, spokeswoman Cherie Jacobs said Monday. It was unclear how far he fell.

“Safety is always our first priority, above all else,” Jacobs said. “We are participating in the investigation and are working closely with the companies involved to ensure that a thorough internal review is conducted.”

Related: Tampa Electric contractor dies at Big Bend Power Station

The federal safety agency investigates “all work-related fatalities in all covered workplaces,” spokesman Eric Lucero said.

Tampa Electric has not disclosed what work the contractor was performing when he died, other than to say it was not related to the plant’s regular operations.

Tampa Electric was the subject of previous Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigations related to deaths at its Apollo Beach facility.

In 2017, five workers were killed while performing a maintenance procedure that violated the utility’s own policies, resulting in a six-figure fine from the federal agency and a finding of “willful” violation -- one of the most severe designations. Tampa Electric is challenging the finding.

Related: Hellfire from above: Tampa Electric knew the procedure was dangerous. It sent workers in anyway.