Morley, Australia – 2 energy workers were killed and 2 seriously injured this week in an explosion at Morley Galleria shopping center located in a suburb of Perth, Australia. Alan Cummins, age 30, was killed at the scene and Matt Hutchins, 22, died in Royal Perth Hospital shortly after the accident.
Employees of High Energy Solutions were performing routine maintenance near an electrical transformer. The exact cause of the explosion is as of yet unknown, but under investigation. Industry experts suspect that an arc flash blast caused the accident. The survivors are in intensive care recovering from burns and smoke inhalation at the Royal Perth Hospital. It has been reported that the injured are in critical condition, with burns to 60-80% of their bodies.
The mall was evacuated and closed temporarily due to power outage and emergency responders working to determine the extent of the accident and damage. Adjacent roads were also temporarily shut down.
In a statement released by High Energy Service Pty Ltd, general manager Brad Mitchell said: “This is a truly tragic day and our thoughts and prayers are with the family and friends of the deceased persons and those of the injured employees… We will be fully co-operating with all the relevant authorities in their investigations and will be conducting our own investigation. Our focus at this moment is supporting those injured people and their families and our other employees.”
Arcadia, WI – The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration levied a historic $1.766 million dollar fine this week against Ashley Furniture Industries, based in Wisconsin. Investigators documented numerous and repeated serious violations at the facility, landing Ashley Furniture on OSHA’s Severe Violator Enforcement Program list for “employers who have demonstrated indifference to their OSH Act obligations by willful, repeated, or failure-to-abate violations.”
The plant employs 4,500 and in the past 3 years has seen over 1,000 worker injuries. Workers were not adequately protected against moving machinery, most of it woodworking machinery. Lack of training and accidents with tools, blades, and saws have resulted in multiple amputations. The OSHA report and $1.76 million dollar penalty allege that Ashley Furniture “failed to safeguard against woodworking machines unintentionally starting when workers were making tool and blade changes,” which is also known as lockout tagout or control of hazardous energy.
Additional citations were issued for “not training workers on safety procedures and hazards present when servicing machinery; lacking adequate drenching facilities for workers exposed to corrosive materials; electrical safety violations; and not equipping all machines with easily-accessible emergency stop buttons.” OSHA categorizes these violations as serious since physical harm resulted from a hazard they estimate that the “employer knew or should have known [to] exist.”
“We rarely issue a fine that is more than $1 million,” commented U.S. Labor Department Assistant Secretary David Michaels. “Having 1,000 work injuries in three years is proof positive that safety in this plant needs tremendous improvement.” U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez stated: “Safety and profits are not an ‘either, or’ proposition. Successful companies across this nation have both.” For its part, Ashley Furniture denies the findings, stressing that they are allegations only.
DETROIT, MI – An electrical explosion at Fort Washington Plaza in Detroit blew three manhole covers into the air.
Authorities confirmed that the high-rise building at 333 West Fort Street has been evacuated. DTE Energy crews have been sent to the building, although a spokesman for DTE said it’s not clear if their service is involved or affected.
Fire Chief John King said the whole situation unfolded after three manhole covers apparently “blew up.”
“We believe we have some underground wiring that has affected the scene. This building right here has been evacuated because of the amount of smoke that was accumulating in the basement, but there is no fire in this building nor has it affected the electrical in this building,” he said. “But it’s being evacuated and it will be shut down the rest of the day.”
“We’re always worried about that, that’s why we want to keep as many people aware of what’s going on as possible because we don’t want people to be near them and be aware that they will fly up in the air and come down and hurt someone,” said King.
Swansea, UK – A workman saved a fellow employee from electrocution by hitting him with a plank of wood. Learning safe release methods of shock victims is a required part of electrical safety training, one that may have saved Mark Bradley’s life.
Bradley, 50, was struck by a reported 11,000-volt shock when a metal lamppost he was installing hit overhead power cables.
Ade Savage tried to free him by pulling and punching him – but making contact with the shock victim made Savage part of the electrical circuit and he suffered shocks himself. Savage then used a method taught in shock victim release training – He used a plank of wood and hit Mark until he broke the grip of the current. Wood is an insulator of electricity, meaning electrical current does not pass through it so Ade was no longer affected by the electric shock.
Mark Bradley, from Gosport, Hants, was taken to the hospital with burns to his face and arms and blood coming from his ears. Ade Savage was also treated for burns after the accident at a Network Rail site in Basingstoke. An investigation is being carried out.
BAM Construction said: “We can confirm there was an accident on our Basingstoke site late on Monday afternoon, where we are working for Network Rail.
BRADFORD, PA — Two American Refining Group (ARG) employees were injured early Wednesday when an electrical arc flash occurred as they were working on electrical equipment at the plant.
Sara Furlong, executive communications coordinator at ARG, said information released by Don Keck, senior vice president of operations, stated the incident occurred at approximately 6:30 a.m. in the motor control center of the crude unit. Mrs. Furlong said two male employees, who were not identified, were working in the facility, which is undergoing expansion due to growing electrical requirements at the refinery.
“They were doing routine work at the crude unit” when the arc flash occurred, Mrs. Furlong said. After the arc flash, which did not cause a fire, the employee with less severe injuries was able to radio for assistance.
“They were both injured. One was taken by ambulance to Bradford Regional Medical Center and the other was flown by Mercy Flight helicopter to (Erie County Medical Center) in Buffalo, (N.Y.),” Mrs. Furlong said.
Mrs. Furlong said an investigation is being conducted by the refinery’s in-house safety personnel to determine the cause of the incident.
In addition, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) officials were at the refinery following the incident to investigate, and company officials were able to provide all required information.
“We expect further inquiry from OSHA and are prepared to fully comply,” she remarked.
PLEASANT PRAIRIE, WI –A 24-year-old temporary maintenance employee suffered severe burns from electrical shock while on assignment for Parallel Employment Group of Wisconsin Inc. Working at the Arvato Digital Services LLC distribution center in Pleasant Prairie, the employee came in contact with an energized electrical source and suffered electrical shock. This caused severe burns and left the employee unable to work for more than four months after the May 19th incident.
OSHA cited Arvato Digital Services for one willful and 10 serious safety violations, carrying proposed penalties of $124,000. Parallel Employment Group, was cited for four serious violations and faces penalties of $26,000. Temporary staffing agencies and host employers share control and responsibility for temporary employee safety and health.
“Workers should not conduct maintenance and trouble-shooting without shutting down electrical sources and wearing personal protective equipment. Those actions can prevent severe injuries like those suffered by this worker,” said Chris Zortman, OSHA’s area director in Milwaukee. “Both temporary staffing agencies and host employers must train and equip their employees properly.”
OSHA’s investigation found the worker, who had been employed for about eight months, had inadvertent contact with electrical equipment while trouble-shooting an electrical failure on a heat-sealing machine.
Arvato Digital Services failed to implement electrical safety practices for employees, which resulted in one willful violation. A willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to employee safety and health.
Arvato Digital Services and Parallel Employment Group were cited for failure to train temporary employees in electrical safety and exposing workers to operating machinery parts on conveyers and press equipment. These serious violations exposed workers to electrical shock and amputation.
Additionally, Arvato Digital Services failed to require personal protective equipment for employees working near exposed, energized electrical parts. The company also did not develop procedures to de-energize circuits and equipment safely or ensure stored energy capacitors were grounded. A serious violation occurs when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard about which the employer knew or should have known.
The citations from OSHA included electrical safety, arc flash, lockout, and machine guarding citations, as follows:
PPE -OSHA 29 CFR 1910.132(d)(l): The employer did not assess the workplace to determine if hazards are present,or are likely to be present, which necessitate the use of personal protective equipment (PPE):
Lockout / Hazardous Energy Control Program – OSHA 29 CFR 1910.147(c)(4)(i): Procedures are not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy when employees were engaged in activities covered by this section:
29 CPR 1910.147(c)(6)(i): The employer did not conduct a periodic inspection of the energy control procedure at least annually to ensure that the procedure and the requirement of this standard were being followed:
Machine Guarding 29 CFR 1910.212(a)(l): Machine guarding was not provided to protect operator(s) and other employees from hazard(s) created by in going nip points, and unguarded conveyor belts:
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.”
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.