Weather Alerts 1 View »

NV Energy faces penalty for worker's death, family of victim wants change

Katie Crowther

NV Energy faces penalty for worker's death, family of victim wants change

By Katie Crowther. CREATED Mar 27, 2013

Las Vegas, NV (KTNV) -- A local family is fighting for change after the sudden death of Herbie Goforth III, a young linemen employed by NV Energy.

The tragic accident happened during a training exercise last September. Now, six months later, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration is proposing a fine against NV Energy for seven alleged health and safety violations in connection with Goforth's death.

According to the OSHA investigation, the fatal accident never should have happened.

Goforth was just 29 years old. He was killed just just one day before his 30th birthday and a week before his wedding day.

"Instead of making final preparations on a wedding, I had to make funeral arrangements on his birthday," says Goforth's fiancé Judy Greene. "I was picking out a casket and a suit for him to wear. I don't know how I got through it."

Greene is still learning how to live without Goforth. "I miss kissing him goodnight, I miss his phone calls, I miss everything about him."

She wears the ring Goforth proposed to her with, along with the one she was supposed to put on his finger at their wedding.

But, she's not the only one whose life was forever changed by what happened.

"He was my only child," says Goforth's mom Rosa. "He was my everything. He would call me every day from work."

But on September 25th, Rosa never got a call. Goforth was training near the Apex Industrial Park in the northeast valley when he fell 75 feet to his death.

"It angers me that this happened," Greene says. 'It shouldn't have happened."

NV Energy is facing a fine of $43,000 for serious safety violations stemming from an investigation into the accident.

"They're saying my son's life was worth $43,000?" Rosa questions. "My son loved working for NV Energy. He gave them everything. He trusted them and I did too."

According to OSHA, NV Energy linemen are not outfitted with adequate protective equipment. NV Energy also received multiple citations involving failing to ensure that fall-arrest equipment met safety requirements.

"They mentioned gloves and safety gear that had holes, as well as booties and body suits that don't fit the linemen properly," Greene says. "Herbie's line belt was for a wooden pole, not a tower."
 
"Those linemen are the backbone of that company," Rosa adds. "I'm hoping and praying that they change things, because no one should go through the pain and suffering we've had to go through."

Goforth's family says they were aware of the dangers, but never imagined this could happen. His father is an engineer with NV Energy.

NV Energy declined to comment on this story, but did release this statement on the OSHA report:

"NV Energy disagrees strongly with certain allegations in the OSHA citation and characterizations in its press statement. We intend to resolve our disagreements through the regulatory process and accordingly cannot comment further, except to again note that we believe our training exercises have been conducted in accordance with industry standards and applicable regulations.  Most importantly, we want to emphasize that our paramount concern is the safety of our employees and we commit to best in class safety performance in all of our operations."