Arc Flash Injures 4 Utility Workers in MN

SHAKOPEE, MN – Four Shakopee utilities workers were taken to the hospital after an accident during electrical maintenance work on 12,000 volts Monday morning.

Neighbors said one of the workers was shocked while standing in a cherry picker bucket near the intersection of Adams Street and 6th Avenue.  Witnesses said the worker started screaming from inside the charred bucket that was stuck close to the power lines. As neighbors called 911, the worker tried to strip off his clothes and was even tempted to jump to the ground.

As coworkers lowered him back down, witnesses said it was clear that burns were covering much of his back and body..

“We heard a boom and his skin was smoking,” one of the neighbors said.

The city said it wasn’t technically a shock, but an “arc flash,” in which powerful currents travel through the air. An arc flash can cause severe burns and destruction of skin and tissue. An arc flash can melt or set clothing on fire, causing more burns.

To avoid the risk of an arc flash, crews are supposed to wear special protective fabric. One neighbor told FOX 9 News the worker in the bucket kept repeating, “I should have put it on. Why didn’t I put it on?”

Failure to wear proper arc flash PPE is a common occurrance. Two of the workers were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center, and the other two were treated at St. Francis Regional Medical Center. The latter two have since been released from St. Francis.

“I’ve been with the utility five years, and I don’t recall something happening to this extent,” said Renee Schmid, superintendent. “It’s something we don’t want to happen. Safety is our foremost concern with our employees.”

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