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Lombardi Law Firm

OSHA’s Nightmare on Elm Street, a/k/a Welcome to Hell’s Half Acre

Steve Lombardi
Iowa civil trial, workers' compensation and personal injury lawyer

Blog Category:
1/28/2013
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4th of July in Bristol, Rhode IslandQuestion: Should I sue my employer after being injured due to someone else’s negligence? I was electrocuted two times! 

Question Detail: While working for a previous employer I was electrocuted on 2 separate occasions by very powerful currents up to about 800v. Both incidents happened because the rooms we worked in were covered in pooled water. There was only one drain in the room which they had been repeatedly told by auditors there needed to be more. On this floor were electrical cords strewn every which way. The auditors also told them this was a safety hazard. The right way would have been to hang the cords from the ceiling on some sort of rack system. They ignored this warning as well. Twice I got jolted. On each occurrence no-one seemed to think it was a very big deal and the supervisor laughed it off never telling me to go to the doctor, but just to fill out an "incident and loss form". I also did not go to the doctor because I didn't think it warranted it and I didn't want to miss work.

Answer: First of all you don’t need a lawyer – you need OSHA. And second you weren’t electrocuted, because you only get electrocuted once and if you were electrocuted you wouldn’t be writing to me, because you’d be dead. You were shocked, not electrocuted. That’s a good thing, btw.

According to Merriam-Webster the definition of being electrocuted is “to kill by electric shock”. So you were shocked twice. That’s good enough for me, I’d rather you were shocked than electrocuted. More than likely your wife is to, if not you’ve got more trouble than any lawyer can fix.

Shock: A sudden stimulation of the nerves and convulsive contraction of the muscles caused by the discharge of electricity through the body.

So let’s back up a bit before you try and get the lawyers involved. If you don’t report the workplace electrical problems to OSHA and are electrocuted then your wife and children may need a lawyer; but right now you need OSHA more than you need any services I provide. Lawyers have a difficult time helping people who work for employers exhibiting little common sense. If your employer is going to act like an idiot you need to act smart. I do understand your hesitancy in reporting it, especially in this economy. But that said, you should have gone to the doctor right after it occurred; and if your employer gave you a hard time then you should have had a sit-down with a lawyer. You should report it right after it occurred. Maybe (hint-hint) you should be anonymously reporting this place to OSHA or Iowa OSH [IOSH]. They do accept private reports of dangerous workplaces and this is a dangerous place to work. Can you report it and then when OSHA shows up not look guilty? If not let your wife or a good friend read this blog and then you don’t have to act when the OSHA inspector shows up.

OSHA Reporting Form – Filing a complaint with OSHA or IOSH

So before you do get electrocuted, call OSHA.

For answers to questions about workplace safety regulation and enforcement, contact us at (515) 242-5870 or:

Stephen J. Slater                                    (515) 281-3469     slater.steve@dol.gov

Deputy Labor Commissioner

Iowa OSHA Administrator

Jens Nissen, Executive Officer                (515) 281-3122      nissen.jens@dol.gov

Don Peddy, Executive Officer                 (515) 281-5666      peddy.don@dol.gov

Tom Vander Linden, Exec. Officer         (515) 281-7008      vanderlinden.tom@dol.gov

Peggy Peterson, Complaint Officer        (515) 281-6865      peterson.peggy@dol.gov 

Kathy Foster, Secretary                           (515) 281-8066      foster.kathy@dol.gov

Patti Sidoner, Admin. Assistant               (515) 281-8065      sidoner.patti@dol.gov

Mike Whitmore, Compliance Assistance  (515) 281-0862      whitmore.mike@dol.gov

FAX                                                        (515) 281-7995

Why does this place remind me of Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming?

I’ve been to Hell’s Half Acre in Wyoming. It’s a small plot of land with extremely deep crevasses. Being there you have the sense something evil is present and soon something really bad will happen. The terrain surrounding it is pretty flat and then suddenly these few acres appear and make no sense about how it was created. God would never do this, at least that’s what I think. In 1990 my son and I found it by happenstance as we were driving to a ranch in northern Wyoming. We’d driven along I-80 and then started heading north; he was young and I wanted him to see the fly-over states from the seat of a pickup truck. The way I understand life you can’t appreciate this country from the seat of an airplane. Years later my daughter and I visited again as we headed north to Devil’s Tower. We stopped just so she could see it. It’s changed, the old motel and restaurant are gone, but still well worth the visit.

From Wikipedia: Hell's Half Acre is a large scarp located about 40 miles (64 km) west of Casper, Wyoming on US 20/26.[1] Encompassing 320 acres (1.3 km2), this geologic oddity is composed of deep ravines, caves, rock formations and hard-packed eroded earth. Hell's Half Acre was used as the location for the fictional planet of Klendathu in the movie Starship Troopers.

The location was known as "The Devil's Kitchen", "The Pits of Hades", and "The Baby Grand Canyon" until a cowhand appeared and thought he was at Hell's Half Acre, an area southwest of Casper full of alkali and bogs.

Native American tribes used the ravines to drive bison to their death during their hunts.

As of December 2005, the roadside restaurant and motel/campground sitting atop the ravine were closed. The motel and the abandoned restaurant have since been torn down.[2] [3] The area is fenced off, but there is an interpretive sign west of the former restaurant.



Category: Workers' Compensation


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