OSHA Still Investigating Employer of Electrician Who Died in Omaha
March 16, 2017
Steven Nitz, an electrician, was injured Dec. 13 at the Sprint Communications building.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating the employer of an electrician who was injured in a fire in Nebraska in December. He later died at the hospital.
Steven Nitz, an electrician, was injured Dec. 13 at the Sprint Communications building. He was working as a contractor for Sprint when the incident occurred. His employer was Electrical Testing Solutions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, according to a report from the Omaha World-Herald.
Nitz had been shocked and burned when authorities found him inside the building southeast of downtown.
The fire was a small one in the building’s main electrical breaker, authorities said. When firefighters arrived, they were told by workers that an injured man was downstairs in the electrical room. The fire caused an outage affecting landline and cellular phones in the Omaha area. Service was restored later that day, the Herald reported.
A spokesman for Nebraska Medicine confirmed Nitz's death this last week but wouldn’t provide additional information. OSHA always investigates the employer of the victim, and this investigation was opened two days after the fire.
OSHA looks at employer of electrician who died
By Janice Podsada / World-Herald staff writer
Feb 8, 2017
Federal regulators have until mid-May to complete an investigation into the employer of an electrician who was injured in a fire near downtown Omaha in December and then died.
Steven Nitz, an electrician, was injured Dec. 13 at the Sprint Communications building near Seventh and Leavenworth Streets.
This week, Taylor Wilson, a spokesman for Nebraska Medicine, confirmed his death, but wouldn’t provide additional information, citing privacy regulations. It’s unclear when Nitz died; Wilson said he couldn’t disclose that information.
Nitz had been hospitalized at the Nebraska Medical Center since being injured Dec. 13, Wilson said.
At the time of the fire, Nitz, 59, was working as a contractor for Sprint, the phone company has said.
Officials with the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration said they opened an investigation into Nitz’s employer, Electrical Testing Solutions of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, on Dec. 15, two days after the blaze.
“OSHA always investigates the employer of the victim,” agency spokesman Scott Allen said. Sprint isn’t being investigated in connection with the incident, he said this week, because it had hired Electrical Testing as a contractor.
A man who identified himself on the telephone Tuesday as an executive with Electrical Testing Solutions said the company is not allowed to comment on the man’s death or the OSHA investigation. He wouldn’t give his name.
OSHA also wouldn’t comment further. The regulator doesn’t provide information on pending investigations. The agency has six months, in this case until about May 15, to complete its investigation, Allen said.
An Omaha Police Department report on the December incident says Nitz, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, had been shocked and burned when authorities found him inside a Sprint building southeast of downtown.
The blaze was a small one in the building’s main electrical breaker, authorities said. When firefighters arrived, they were told by workers that an injured man was downstairs in the electrical room.
The fire caused an outage affecting landline and cellular phones in the Omaha area. Service was restored later that day.
Sprint expressed its condolences for Nitz’s death earlier this week.
Fire officials have listed the fire’s cause as accidental.
Man critically injured in fire in Sprint building Tuesday; voice, data service disrupted
By Andrew J. Nelson and Jay Withrow / World-Herald staff writers
Dec 14, 2016
A man was critically injured and people across the Omaha metro area were left without phone service after a fire Tuesday morning at a Sprint Communications building southeast of downtown.
A Police Department report says Steven Nitz, 59, of Oshkosh, Wisconsin, an electrician, was shocked and burned. The blaze was reported about 4:45 a.m. in a building at Seventh and Leavenworth Streets. The report says Nitz was inside when he was injured. He was in critical condition Tuesday night at the Nebraska Medical Center.
The Sprint store at 72nd and Dodge Streets posted a sign on its door advising customers that the fire affected 236 towers in Omaha.
Customers in Omaha and surrounding areas experienced voice and data issues because of the fire, said John Votava, a Sprint spokesman. Customers as far away as Minneapolis, Minnesota, were unable to call 911 Tuesday because of the fire, news outlets in the Twin Cities reported.
The outage affected landline and cellular phones. The company apologized to its customers. Service was restored by late Tuesday.
“It was something that did, unfortunately, take quite an extensive bit of repair,” Votava said.
Some cellphone users reported losing all forms of communication: Internet, email, text and phone service, including, possibly, 911 service.
Stephanie Sousa, 27, said her 4-year-old son, Amari, who is a severe asthmatic, had an extreme coughing spell Tuesday morning and had to be taken to the emergency room.
“This whole Sprint thing is very, very, very upsetting as now his doctor cannot contact me, nor I her, to schedule a follow-up appointment or to speak with her about our ER visit this morning,” Sousa, of Omaha, wrote in an email Tuesday evening. “This outage also means I am without phone service to call anyone should the unthinkable happen again.”
The fire was a small one in the main electrical breaker for the building, officials said. It was quickly extinguished by the Fire Department.
However, when fire crews arrived at the building, they were met by workers who said that a man was injured and that he was downstairs in the electrical room.
“We are saddened that a contractor on site was injured in the fire,” Votava wrote in an email.
Fire officials have listed the fire’s cause as accidental.
The outage created a variety of problems for metro-area residents and businesses.
Amanda Collier of Omaha said she is unemployed and was unable to call about jobs she had applied for, nor was she able to check her voicemail to see whether potential employers had called her.
“My son is sick and I am unable to call our doctor to get him meds, and I am unable to make calls today to find assistance to help pay my shut off for OPPD. I have interviews lined up (Wednesday) and Thursday and I hope I have service by then, as I need to use my GPS to find the places,” Collier, 35, wrote in an email.
Mike Kennedy of Omaha is an attorney and president of the Millard school board. His law practice is centered on child custody and divorce, so this is a busy season.
“I couldn’t get ahold of clients. I couldn’t get ahold of the school district on an important matter. It’s been a trying day. And the most important person, my wife, couldn’t get ahold of me,” he said in an interview.
Kennedy, 46, said it would take about 30 seconds for a call to connect on his cellphone, or it would drop without connecting. He also had delays sending texts.
“An attorney 25 years ago would have said, ‘I’ll return your call the next day,’ ” he said. “People today, they want an answer ... they want a quick answer. And in many businesses just like mine, it’s time-sensitive. ... You don’t understand how much people use those phones until you don’t have it.”
1957 - 2017 Obituary
Steven J. Nitz, 59, Oshkosh, passed away at Nebraska Medical Center as a result of a work injury sustained in Omaha. Steve has been in the hospital since December 13, 2016 with his wife Mary by his side, and passed away on Saturday, February 4, 2017, just ten days before his 60th birthday. Steve was the second child born to John and Germaine (Reichenberger) Nitz and was a lifelong resident of Oshkosh. He was employed by several local businesses throughout his career including Multi-Conveyer, Shallbetter, and most recently, Electrical Testing Solutions. Steve was a family man that worked harder than any other man we know and could fix whatever was put in front of him. His skills and knowledge were endless. Steve was a dedicated hobbyist who enjoyed hunting, planting trees, gardening and taking on new adventures like making maple syrup and raising turkeys and bees. He loved to share those adventures with anyone who would listen.
Steve loved his family immensely. He has a beautiful supportive wife Mary and five children that don't know where they will be without his love, support and ability to fix anything. In addition to his loving children, he has six grandchildren who would say no one else could make a turkey call or gobble quite like their Grandpa. He had a vivid imagination and entertained his grandchildren with tall tales. We love this man more than paragraphs can ever explain.
Steve leaves behind his wife, Mary; his children: Nicholas Nitz, Amy (Chris) Jackson, Wendy (Troy) Nitz-Schneider, Meghan Mielke and Marissa Mielke; his grandchildren: Jasmine, Kaia, Bohdan, Keyanna, Kaeliah and Finley. He is further survived by his brothers: Mike and Tom; sisters: Cindy, Donna and Annmarie; many nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents, infant sister, Amy and nephews: Jeremy, Aaron and Mario.
We would like to thank the Omaha Fire Department for their quick response and the staff of the Nebraska Medical Burn ICU for the expert and loving care provided to Steve. You supported and nurtured our entire family. We are forever grateful and you will always be a part of our family.
Konrad-Behlman Funeral Home (100 Lake Pointe Drive, Oshkosh) is handling arrangements. Visitation will be held on Friday, February 10, 2017 from 4:00-7:00PM at the funeral home. A prayer service will be held at 7:00PM. Visitation on Saturday, February 11, 2017 will be held at St. Raphael the Archangel Catholic Church (830 Westhaven Drive, Oshkosh) from 9:30-11:00AM and will be followed by a Mass of Christian burial.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the family for planting of trees in memory of Steve on his family farm land.