In a press release Monday, the Bureau of Reclamation reports taking aggressive steps to address violations of safety and health rules after an Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspection of the Hoover Dam found dozens of safety and health violations at the 75-year-old facility.
After its inspection of the 2,078-Megawatt hydropower project, OSHA identified 50 alleged serious and eight alleged repeat safety and health violations at the landmark dam, ranging from potential overexposure to hexavalent chromium to a failure to provide unobstructed access to emergency access. The eight alleged repeat violations stem from earlier OSHA inspections at the Hoover Dam and 25 other Bureau of Reclamation facilities over the last five years. They include improper machine guarding, electrical violations and failure to properly mount and maintain portable fire extinguishers.
“We are concerned to have found this number of serious safety and health violations at the Hoover Dam plant,” said Ken Atha, OSHA’s regional administrator in San Francisco. “We expect to work closely with the agency to rectify these deficiencies and provide a safe and healthful work environment for employees.”
The Bureau of Reclamation — the agency under the Department of the Interior handling water resource management — has overseen the dam since its Depression-era planning and construction. The Bureau reports to have cooperated with OSHA throughout the inspection and promises it will address all deficiencies.
“Although one violation is one too many,” said the bureau’s Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp, “we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the issues raised are fixed and do not happen again. We are committed to the safety of all the employees who work in our facilities, the visitors who enjoy the Hoover Dam experience and the general public.”
The Bureau asserts that the safety violations do not present any danger to the safety and health of the public, nor to the operational and structural integrity of the dam itself.
Section 19 of the OSH Act and Executive Order 12196 obligate all federal agencies to provide their employees with the same protections against injury and illness that private-sector employers must. While OSHA may not propose a fine against another federal agency, the head of the agency in violation is responsible to ensure the agency comes into compliance when it receives notice of unhealthful or unsafe working conditions.