OSHA finds 60 alleged health, safety violations at Hoover Dam

A view of Hoover Dam from the Mike O’Callaghan-Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge.

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Water conservationists, from left, Doug Myers, Tammy Myers, Cat Sawai and Tui Anderson observe the seven-story-high hydroelectric generators while touring the power plant at the Hoover Dam with the WaterSmart Innovations Conference on Friday. Launch slideshow »

Federal workplace safety regulators say they have found nearly 60 health and safety violations at Hoover Dam, painting a bleak picture of working conditions at the iconic hydroelectric power plant.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration, or OSHA, announced Monday it found 50 “serious” and eight repeat violations at the dam 30 miles southeast of Las Vegas. About 250 people work at the plant, which opened in 1935 and is operated by the U.S. Department of Interior’s Bureau of Reclamation.

A “serious” violation is one that has a high chance of causing death or serious injury. The 50 allegedly serious violations at Hoover Dam included fall and electrical hazards, a lack of required machinery guards, inadequate personal protective equipment, lead contamination and the potential for overexposure to hexavalent chromium, OSHA said.

High levels of exposure to hexavalent chromium can cause lung cancer, respiratory irritation and damage to the eyes and skin, the agency has said.

OSHA also noted violations for failing to properly maintain and inspect firefighting equipment, providing unobstructed access to emergency exits and insufficient “lockout” procedures for energy sources that “could lead to amputations.”

The eight repeat violations alleged by OSHA included failure to: anchor a drill press, implement proper machine guarding, correct multiple electrical violations and properly mount and maintain portable fire extinguishers.

In a prepared statement posted on its website, the Bureau of Reclamation said Monday it has taken “aggressive steps” to address the problems outlined in the report.

The bureau said none of the identified issues “jeopardized the safety of the general public or threatened the structural integrity of the dam or dam operations.”

The bureau said it has already corrected some of the problems listed in the report, including that a drill press was not mounted to a bench, equipment lacked the necessary guards and electrical panels did not have proper labels.

“Although one violation is one too many, we are taking the necessary steps to ensure the issues raised are fixed and do not happen again,” Lower Colorado Regional Director Terry Fulp said in the statement.



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  1. I guarantee that OSHA could go into any maintenance shop and find similar "violations". It has been my experience that even if one inspector is satisfied with corrective measures, a different inspector could come in the next day and write up another violation. OSHA can drive even a well run company out of business.

  2. Who inspects OSHA???

  3. First off I am surprised that OSHA inspects government jobs or work. Have been away from the work force for awhile and always thought the Bureau or Government projects like Hoover dam inspected their own projects or work. They have I thought a decent safety program, BUT, I did have a opportunity to work at Hoover Dam years ago for a contractor and I myself noticed many safety type issues then, and was told that Hoover Dam came under what they called "The Grandfather clause", or like it was built yrs ago so being the Bureau, it's allright.
    For the safety of employees, visitors etc it is probably very good these issues where pointed out and better yet that the citations where written and will be corrected and penalties placed...like what happens to others. Hopefully these citations will be posted for the public..and the people at Hoover Dam get their act to-gether.

  4. Did we all forget the comments from the head of OSHA last year? When he stated that the inspectors need to find more violations, not less??

  5. Lets start with OSHA standards are minimal level of safety. Having guards,labeling,inspection records and etc should be a culture thing in the workplace OH! BOO HOO! to the management at Hover Dam. Somebody is getting a big Atta Boy for not keeping Safety as it's top priority. Safety starts with the leadership of the management for their employees to follow. Being Pro active only protects the workers and if the safety process is not followed than it tends to make one wonder what other areas are being neglected and what safety concerns are there in those areas. Not having a drill press secured is so easy to correct a cave man can do it so that in it self speaks volumes for the integrity of Management leadership. I have worked with OSHA on many occasions having been employed at a Star VPP OSHA site for over 15 years and a Facilitator for Behavior Base Safety. I have done wall to wall inspections with OSHA at the site I worked at and not once did I see them go out of their way to damage or put a company out of business. If a serious accident or fatality happen here at the Hover Dam site the first thing everyone would be yelling is where was OSHA. Shame on you Hover Dam Management get your act together!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!