Sunday is not likely to be a particularly merry Christmas for Mark Keeley’s loved ones, thanks to what appears to be fatal ineptness by Philadelphia Gas Works employees.
Mr. Keeley, a PGW employee, was on the job for just four months last January when he was killed in an explosion in Tacony. The 19-year-old and other workers were investigating reports of a gas leak in a building on Torresdale Avenue when the blast happened.
A scathing report just released by the Pennsylvania Public Utility Commission cites PGW for a whopping 334 violations of state and federal regulations.
The infractions were not trivial stuff like workers making personal phone calls on company time; rather, they involved key issues, including waiting too long to close gas valves, failing to ask the electric company to shut service at the site of the gas leak, failing to repair a gas shut-off valve that had been reported broken at the site six months earlier, and failing to conduct post-accident drug testing for employees who were at the scene.
A PGW spokesman says the utility has not fined or disciplined any employees.
Why on earth not?
Any and all PGW employees, including supervisors, whose actions contributed to the tragedy must be held accountable, and that means they should lose their jobs and pensions and be fined.
Other utility companies — indeed, all businesses big and small — must understand that they will pay a heavy price when they break safety rules.
Rules and regulations exist for good reason and apply to everybody, not just people who like them. One way to get that point across is to hit offenders where it hurts — in the wallet. ••
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