Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News
Blog Author Steve Hudgik
Thursday, March 27, 2008
Contractors Cited by OSHA Following Electrocution Death At Maine JobsiteThe U.S. Department of Labor's Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited two contractors - J&S Carpentry of Columbia, Maine, and Irving Equipment Inc. of Hampton, N.H. - for 15 alleged violations of safety standards following the electrocution death of an employee at a Hermon, Maine, residential construction site.
On Sept. 12, 2007, an Irving crane contacted an energized 7,200 volt overhead power line as two J&S Carpentry employees were attempting to attach the crane's rigging equipment to a section of a modular home that was being constructed at 28 Lily Lane in Hermon. One of the employees was killed and the other seriously injured by the electric current.
OSHA's inspection found that the crane was being operated within 10 feet of the power line, which had not been de-energized beforehand, as required. The two contractors face a combined total of $121,500 in proposed fines.
"The basic safeguards designed to prevent just this sort of accident were ignored here, with fatal results," said William Coffin, OSHA's area director for Maine. "De-energizing the power line and maintaining a safe working distance from it would have prevented this death and injury."
J&S Carpentry, for whom the employees worked, was issued two willful citations for allowing employees to work in close proximity to the energized power line and for not protecting employees against fall hazards. OSHA also issued the company four serious citations for a lack of on-site medical attention; absence of hardhats and electrical warning signs; and ladder hazards. J&S Carpentry faces a total of $32,000 in proposed fines for these conditions.
Irving Equipment, which owned and operated the crane, has been issued three repeat citations for operating the crane in high winds, inadequate support for the crane's outriggers, and not inspecting the job site to identify and correct these and other hazards. OSHA had cited the company in May 2005 for similar hazards at a Freeport, Maine, job site.
Irving Equipment also has been issued six serious citations for operating the crane within 10 feet of the power line; not operating the crane in accordance with the manufacturer's specifications and industry standards; and lack of fall protection, hardhats, on-site medical attention and an electrical warning sign. Irving Equipment faces a total of $89,500 in proposed fines for these conditions.
OSHA defines a willful violation as one committed with plain indifference to or intentional disregard for employee safety and health. A serious citation is issued when death or serious physical harm is likely to result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
Each company has 15 business days from receipt of its citations to contest them before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission. The inspection was conducted by OSHA's Bangor District Office.
Friday, March 14, 2008
What OSHA Expects: The Electrical Safety Questions OSHA Will AskThis article, What OSHA Expects: The Electrical Safety Questions OSHA Will Ask During an Investigation by Kenneth Cybart appeared in yesterday's Occupational Hazards Magazine. This is how the article introduces itself:
"Wouldn’t it be nice to know exactly what OSHA is training its inspectors to look for during an inspection that includes electrical safety, including surprising new areas of emphasis based on national OSHA directives? This article covers some of the typical electrical safety questions that OSHA inspectors will ask during a field investigation, what they mean and how to be prepared and in compliance."
The article looks at 17 questions OSHA inspectors will ask, such as:
Is there a description of the circuit or equipment at the job location?
Is there a detailed job description of planned work?
Can you justify why equipment cannot be de-energized or the job deferred until the next scheduled outage?
Has a detailed work procedure been established?
You can read the complete article, including all 17 questions, on Occupational Hazards' web site.
Wednesday, March 12, 2008
Avoiding Five Big MistakesAn article by Larry Altmayer (Services Manager for POWR-GARD, Littlefuse, Inc.) in this month's issue of Facility Safety discusses Avoiding Five Big Mistakes when assessing your facility for electrical hazards.
The articles opens by describing this problem:
"In one case, a manager didn’t calculate Arc flash hazards because a consultant told him the power serving that part of his plant was too low to cause an arc flash. He didn’t realize that low-level faults can cause a circuit breaker or fuse to open more slowly and actually increase the heat energy during an arc-flash. He had good intentions, but the plant was out of compliance by not identifying real hazards and his workers were at risk."
The five big mistakes are identified as:
1.Conducting an incomplete assessment.
2. Using the NFPA 70E Table Method improperly.
3. Trying to do an assessment with in-house staff.
4. Not correcting deficiencies after the assessment.
5. Not changing work procedures after the assessment.
You can read the entire article on the Facility Safety web site.
WE Energies To Pay Damages In Plant AccidentThe Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today on the court judgment resulting from an arc flash injury at the Patrick Cudahy meat packing plant.
The article reports that Neil Wolf was injured by an arc flash on May 26, 2003, at the Patrick Cudahy plant. The jury awarded $515,000 to Mr. Wolf.
WE Energies, the local power company, was found to be 37% negligent and will have to pay $190,550 of the award.
Patrick Cudahy was found to be 55% responsible. But because Patrick Cudahy was a plaintiff, not a defendant in this case, they will not need to pay any of the jury award.
Mr. Wolf was found to be 10% responsible.
You can read the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article at: http://www.jsonline.com/story/index.aspx?id=727274
OSHA imposed $148,500 in fines in December 2004. The following is what OSHA reported at that time:
"Three workers were reported to have been troubleshooting electrical switchgear at the Cudahy, Wis., facility when electricity arched and exploded. OSHA's investigation revealed that the three workers, all of whom received first, second and third degree burns throughout their bodies, were not using insulated tools, were not wearing proper personal protective equipment, and were not following appropriate safety standards. OSHA issued willful and serious violations to Cudahy for allegedly failing to provide such equipment, and warning or training the workers about flash hazards."