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State levies $357,000 in fines for worker's death in Holland | News

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State levies $357,000 in fines for worker's death in Holland

HOLLAND, Mich. (WZZM) -- An industrial accident that led to the death of a Dorr electrician in June has resulted in $357,000 in fines against two companies for what state inspectors are calling willful and serious violations.

Gates Electric Inc. of Hamilton was assessed $287,000 in fines from the Michigan Occupational Safety and Health Administration for five violations, including a lack of protection for live electrical installation.

Electrical Inspection Service LLC of Holland was hit with a $70,000 fine for not following the National Electric Code.

The fines stem from the June 16 death Dale Berkompas, 40, an electrical foreman who died while preparing to wire a fire pump to the electrical supply at Brink Truck Lines in Holland.

The Dorr man left behind a wife and two children. Berkompas is one of 25 people to die on the job in Michigan this year.

Violations classified as willful are the most serious and means the company knew about the hazard but opted not to comply with MIOSHA standards. When a company receives a willful violation, the case is sent to the state Attorney General's Office for review to determine if criminal charges are warranted.

MIOSHA launched its investigation into the two Lakeshore businesses after Berkompas, an electrician with Gates Electric, became the 11th Michigan worker to die on the job. During six inspections between June 16 and Aug. 19, MIOSHA identified five safety violations at Gates – four of them classified as willful and serious.

It determined electrical equipment to the fire pump was not installed properly, the company did not provide worker protection for live electrical installation, an employee was allowed to be near a live electrical wire without proper precautions and two qualified employees were not assigned to work on the energized wires. Each of the four violations carried a $70,000 penalty.

Brinks was also hit with a $7,000 penalty for workers using electrical gloves beyond their expiration date.

Electrical Inspections Service was cited for allowing power to be sent to the work operation prior to it being completely installed. Classified as a willful and serious, the violation carried a $70,000 penalty.

In April, Grand Rapids Plastics, Inc. was assessed $558,000 in penalties for safety violations at its plastic injection molding plant, including omissions that led to a worker's gruesome death in June, 2014 when he was crushed by a press.