Arc Flash & Electrical Safety News

Blog Author Steve Hudgik

Monday, December 12, 2011

Arc Flash In A Grocery Store

For the past month I've been working at digging up any and all news reports about arc flash injuries.  There are many claims about the number of severity of arc flash incidents and I wanted to find out what the facts are.  However, it has turned out to be a difficult task -- at least using public news sources.

One conclusion I've arrived at is that the general news media does not have a clue about arc flash.  Another conclusion is that there is a huge electrical safety problem -- the number of injuries reported from electrical shock daily is staggering.  In most cases they happen because equipment was not de-energized before someone started to work on it.

In the mid-1970's I was a start-up engineer working on digital control systems.  At that time "digital control" meant mechanical relays.  Some of the electricians I worked with would test circuits by touching live connections with the back of their fingers. They even claimed to be able to tell the difference between 110 and 220.  Is that type of bravado still going on in the workplace?  Do electrical workers feel they can work on live circuits and not be injured?  Or is it just more convenient to not turn the power off?

What got me started on this post is an article in a Connecticut Newspaper called "The Daily."  It reports about an arc flash incident in a Big Y grocery store.  Grocery stores seem like safe places.  Please don't be complacent.  Please don't be casual about electrical safety.   Please don't take shortcuts.  Please be with your family for Christmas, not in a hospital recovering from an electrical burn.

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posted by Steve Hudgik | This Arc Flash Post and 4 Comments |

4 Comments:

At 10:21 AM, Blogger Electrical 13 said...

Thanks for the report. The downside to me is there are little details related to any of these occurrances to be able to learn lessons. Was the man working in an energized 480V distribution panel? Was he testing? Cleaning, the questions go on. Was he by himself, had he filled out a permit to work in an energized area? Where I am a volunteer worker, in order to work in energized equipment, to do more than voltage readings and trouble shooting, a written permit is required. Any electrical accidents are investigated and shared with all on the crew in order for all to learn from the incident. A few years ago a worker was killed in Hartford by contacting an energized lighting whip or something in a drop ceiling. At a seminar I met one of the chief electrical inspectors for the entire state and asked him if he knew the circumstances surrounding the incident. He did not and mentioned that because of insurance claims it could be years before details become known. In our industry so much is never shared that could be a help to the entire industry because of fear. Mistakes happen, most are not a willful intent to harm anyone. Our trade is built on the premise to protect life foremost, then property by properly installing and maintaining eletrical systems. I for one would like to know details so as to be able to share them with the men I work with in order for all of us to work safer.

 
At 5:03 AM, Blogger Steve Hudgik said...

Thank you for your comment electrical 13. I agree. One of my goals has been to find better sources of information so we can learn from each other's mistakes. The news media reporting is skimpy. OSHA accident reports and citations are more detailed, but still leave out important information. I had not considered that insurance claims essentially keep everyone quiet - no one can say anything as it might hurt their claim - for a long time. Thank you for the comment!

 
At 12:37 PM, Anonymous Morgan said...

Such a great article which the past month I've been working at digging up any and all news reports about arc flash injuries. There are many claims about the number of severity of arc flash incidents and I wanted to find out what the facts are. Thanks for sharing this article.

 
At 10:12 PM, Anonymous Nate said...

Nice post which They even claimed to be able to tell the difference between 110 and 220. In which Some of the electricians I worked with would test circuits by touching live connections with the back of their fingers. Thanks a lot for posting this article.

 

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