WASHINGTON (AP) — The transit network in the nation’s capital remained hobbled Tuesday morning following an electrical malfunction that filled a busy subway station with smoke, killing one woman and sending dozens of people to hospitals.
The accident occurred around 3:30 p.m. Monday on a Virginia-bound yellow line train that had just left the L’Enfant Plaza station in downtown Washington, one of the system’s busiest stations.
The National Transportation Safety Board was investigating the accident, which happened at the beginning of the Monday afternoon rush hour and led to the first fatality on Washington’s Metro system since a 2009 crash that killed eight passengers and a train operator.
NTSB investigator Michael Flanigon told reporters late Monday night that an electrical “arcing” involving the high-voltage third rail led a train to stop in a tunnel and quickly filled the tunnel with smoke. An arcing occurs when electricity from the third rail comes into contact with another substance that conducts electricity, such as water.
“The third rail is high-voltage direct current, and if that current starts arcing to another conductor that it is not designed to connect with, you get a flash,” Flanigon said. “In certain cases, that arc can start sort of feeding on itself, and it actually generates gases that are more conductive.”
The yellow line remained shut down Tuesday morning, and the system’s orange, blue and silver lines were on a reduced schedule. Service on the green and red lines was normal.
WorkSafeBC fined Great Canadian Casino 75,000 in relation to a fatal accident in November of 2011 that claimed the life of a worker at River Rock Casino Resort’s show theatre.
According to the most recent WorkSafeBC report detailing administrative penalties for health and safety violations, the worker was part of a team changing a motor on the show theatre’s automated seating system. When the motor was removed, the brake holding the seats in their upright position came off, sending the unsecured seats moving downward, striking the worker who fell through a gap in the floor to the concrete floor some 10 feet below. The employee died of his injuries.
“WorkSafeBC’s investigation found that the firm failed to securely cover or guard an opening in the floor that was a danger to workers. It also failed to secure equipment parts against inadvertent movement, which was a high-risk violation of lockout procedures required by the Occupational Health and Safety Regulation,” the report said.
“This was extremely tragic, extremely traumatic for the people involved,” Great Canadian Casino spokesperson Chuck Keeling said Friday morning. “This was something that was pretty jarring.”
Keeling said Great Canadian has been “fully cooperative with WorkSafeBC in terms of rectifying the oversights that led to this tragic consequence.”
Great Canadian “fully accepts” the report’s findings, Keeling said, and the company has “adopted all of their recommendations.”
According to WorkSafeBC’s report, the violations “show that the firm failed to provide its workers with the information, instruction, training and supervision needed to ensure their safety. This in turn was a repeated violation.”
The $75,000 fine was leveled against Great Canadian on Sept. 3.
Washington’s Department of Labor & Industries (L&I) has cited a landscaping company for multiple safety violations related to the death of a worker last July. A nineteen-year-old worker was killed by a rotating auger while working inside the hopper of a bark-blower truck at a residential jobsite. The blower and auger were energized at the time the worker was clearing a jam.
The employer has been cited for two willful and 14 serious violations, with penalties totaling $199,000. The employer has also been identified as a severe violator and will be subject to follow-up inspections to determine if the conditions still exist in the future.
“The loss of this young man’s life is a tragedy that could have been prevented if the employer had followed basic safety and health rules that protect workers from moving machinery,” said L&I Assistant Director Anne Soiza. “We hope this citation and the penalties serve as a deterrent so that nothing like this ever happens again.”
The L&I investigation found that the employer’s workers were regularly assigned to clear jams in the bark-blower truck hoppers while the hoppers were operating. This exposed them to three very hazardous elements: a floor conveyor belt, two rotating-screw conveyors (angled augers) and a rotating stir rod. Exposure to any of these parts of the equipment could potentially result in entanglement, causing severe crushing injuries or death.
Working in and around this type of extremely hazardous equipment requires lockout/tagout safety procedures to prevent machinery from starting up or moving during service or maintenance by workers.
The employer was cited for two willful violations. The first was issued for not ensuring lockout/tagout procedures were regularly used; it carries a penalty of $56,000. The second willful violation was issued for not training the employees in the proper use of those critical procedures; it carries a $52,000 penalty.
Additionally, working in the hopper of bark-blower trucks exposed workers to confined space hazards. Confined spaces, like hoppers, are areas large enough to accommodate a worker, but aren’t designed for continuous employee occupancy and have limited ways to enter or exit.
Twelve of the serious violations cited were for failure to implement safe work practices when entering a permit-required confined space. Two other serious violations were cited for not having an effective accident prevention program and for failure to document lockout/tagout procedures. Each of these violations carries a $6,500 penalty.
HIGH SPRINGS, FLA. — Ice River Springs Water Co. Inc., a water bottling plant in Florida, was fined $84,000 by the U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration following an accident that permanently disabled a contingent worker.
The worker was clearing a jam in a machine used to package cases of bottled water on pallets when the machine started up, pinning him between the elevator and the palletizer conveyor, permanently disabling him. The worker had been on the job for 12 days.
An OSHA investigation found Ice River’s High Springs facility allowed workers to bypass two machine safeguards when entering the palletizer’s safety cage. OSHA cited the water-bottle manufacturer for three safety violations, two serious and one willful; fines total $84,000.
Willful. Failure to ensure workers were protected from moving machine parts during service or maintenance.
“It is critical that Ice River Springs and TempForce understand OSHA’s newest initiatives to protect temporary workers, which must include shared responsibility by the host employer and the temporary staffing agency. These initiatives include taking effective steps to ensure that each temporary worker is sufficiently trained and monitored to safeguard them from the hazards of their new work environment” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville.