Electrical Panel Explosion Hospitalizes Two TX Workers

Conroe, TX – An electrical panel explosion and fire electrical panel explosionat Aegion Coating Services’ production plant sent two electricians to the hospital this month.

Investigators say two electricians were seriously burned when a high voltage electrical panel they were working on exploded.

According to the local Fire Marshal, multiple agencies responded to the emergency and the facility was evacuated as a precaution. One report described heavy black smoke billowing from a large warehouse at the site. The fire caused by the electrical panel explosion was quickly put out by firefighters. The chemicals present at this plant were a concern for area firefighters, but it was reported that no chemicals were released and local residents were not evacuated.

Both affected electricians were transported to the hospital for burn treatments, but were back to work when the plant was authorized to resume operations later that same day.

The Aegion chemical plant facility north of Houston specializes in pipeline coatings for both onshore and offshore installations. The incident is currently under investigation by the County Fire Marshal’s Office.

Please contact Martin Technical to learn more about Electrical and Arc Flash safety.

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Partial Amputation at Window Maker Prompts OSHA Fines

partial amputationHialeah, FL – OSHA has cited CGI Windows and Doors for federal workplace safety violations that include willful failures in machine guarding which will cost PGT Industries fines proposed to total $398,545. OSHA investigated the Florida window and door manufacturer following reports that an employee had suffered a partial finger amputation while using an unguarded punch press at their facility outside of Miami. CGI Windows and Doors is owned by PGT Industries.

OSHA cited PGT for two serious violations and two other-than-serious violations, however the bulk of the fine was for the willful violation of machine safety standards. In their announcement, OSHA stated that PGT Industries “knowingly disregarded machine guarding requirement intended to protect employees from caught-in and amputation hazards.” The Willful violation constitutes $258,672 of the proposed fine. In this case, OSHA applied the maximum fine allowed by law for the violations that can cause life-altering injury.

Federal workplace safety inspectors found guards absent on eight punch presses, a drill press, and a table saw at the CGI Windows and Doors facility. Three other punch presses were documented as having guards that didn’t cover enough area to protect workers.

The serious and other-than-serious citations were for hazards including failing to implement a program to inspect mechanical power presses and correct unsafe conditions; exposing employees to electrical hazards; failing to make sure employees wore hearing protection; and failing to develop specific procedures to verify the control of hazardous energy an industrial safety practice known as Lockout Tagout.

In response to OSHA’s announcement and the associated penalties, PGT asserted that they “share OSHA’s goal of ensuring the safety of each and every one of our team members.”

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Fatality at Australian Power Plant Reportedly Caused by Arc Flash

Yallourn, Victoria, Australia – A fatal explosion at an Australian Power Station is said to have been the result of a phase-to-phase arc flash. A unit controller with more than 30 years’ experience was critically injured during the explosion in the southeastern-most state of Australia which lead to his death the next day.

EnergyAustralia has identified arc flash as the cause of the explosion at the Yallourn Power Station, however a local union representative is not confident in that explanation and staff at the power station say they are afraid to go to work.

Graeme Edwards died after a high-voltage circuit breaker he was working on exploded last month. Edwards was re-installing a high-voltage circuit breaker on one of the plant’s four generation units when the explosion occurred, a procedure known as “racking.” EnergyAustralia stated that racking is a routine job but potentially hazardous. In this case, the unit burst into flames that burnt most of Edwards’ body. The worker was flown to hospital in a critical condition but died a day later.fatality arc flash

EnergyAustralia said it believed the “sudden electrical discharge” was caused by a “phase-to-phase arc flash.” However, they have yet to determine what caused the short circuit which is the source of union and worker worries about the safety of the workplace.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode and can result in an arc-plasma fireball with temperatures in excess of 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors as they expand up to 67,000 times original volume. The arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

Yallorn Power Station workers will not be asked to use affect equipment involved in the incident until EnergyAustralia determines that it is safe to do so. An executive of Yallourn Power Station has said that risk assessments are being conducted and that all safety controls will be reviewed prior to resuming work.

A representative of the union which advocates for the workers at Yallourn Power station has voiced concerns that workers were not provided with the most up-to-date protective gear, including arc flash suits, similar to what bomb disposal workers use.

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Arc Flash at CO Hydroelectric Station Sends 5 to Hospital

Georgetown, CO – Five employees were taken to the hospital following an arc flash at Xcel Energy’s Cabin Creek Hydroelectric generating station last month. Their injuries were not life threatening, and all were treated and released the same day. Xcel Energy self-reported that about eight employees and a few contractors were on-site at the time, and all were evacuated. The incident was initially reported as a fire, but upon further investigation turned out to be an arc flash.

The arc flash at Xcel Energy’s Cabin Creek Hydroelectric generating station occurred within Unit B, inside a self-contained concrete block. Because that particular station provides power only during periods of high demand, there were power outages or interruption of service to customers. The Cabin Creek hydroelectric plant was the site of an infamously fatal flash hydroelectric arc flashfire in 2007 which resulted in the death of 5 contract workers within a permit required confined space. Read more from original source.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment. In an Arc Flash, temperatures may exceed 35,000°F (for perspective, the surface of the sun is estimated to be near 9000°F). These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast often vaporizes all solid copper conductors in a piece of equipment as the copper expands up to 67,000 times its original volume. The arc flash/blast produces fire, intense light, pressure waves and produces flying shrapnel. There are a variety of reasons why an Arc Flash can occur, but  most are preventable and ultimately attributable to human error. Many arc flashes occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault or short circuit. Improper tools, improper electrical equipment, corrosion of equipment, improper work techniques and lack of electrical safety training are just some of the events that can lead to a devastating arc flash or arc blast.

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Arc Flash Hospitalizes 3 Chicago Transit Workers

Chicago, IL – An electrical arc flash blew the panel off a transformer in downtown Chicago last week, injuring three Chicago Transit Authority maintenance workers and leaving hundreds in the area without power.

The arc flash relayed to a transformer, sparking a flash fire at an electrical substation near the intersection of North State and East Lake streets. Three workers were injured. Two were in critical condition with serious burns, and a third worker was also taken to the hospital but in good condition.electrical arc flash

Chicago Fire Department spokesperson Larry Langford said the fire took place at a Chicago Transit Authority substation powered by ComEd. ComEd reported that the accident caused an issue with a circuit breaker, which left approximately 500 customers in the area without power.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, which often result in injury to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

In an arc flash, temperatures may exceed 35,000° F (for reference, the surface of the sun is estimated to be 9000° F). This discharge of extremely high temperature causes rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, creating an arc blast. The arc flash and blast usually vaporize all solid copper conductors which expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves and flying shrapnel.

A variety of things can trigger an Arc Flash, but most are preventable and can be traced back to human error. Many arc flashes occur when maintenance workers are manipulating live equipment for testing or repair and accidentally cause a fault or short circuit. Improper tools, improper electrical equipment, corrosion of equipment, improper work techniques, and/or a lack of electrical safety training are some of the failures that can lead to a devastating arc flash or arc blast.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

Contact a member of the Martin Technical Electrical Safety & Training staff today to learn how to protect your workers and your business from the risks of Arc Flash.

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Telsa Fined $110,863 for Unauthorized Worker’s Injury

Palo Alto, CA – Tesla plans to appeal their largest OSHA fine to date. As the parent company of SolarCity, Tesla was fined $110,863 for 10 violations following the electrical shock and subsequent hospitalization of an inadequately trained SolarCity employee in December of 2017.

OSHA identified 10 worker safety violations at a SolarCity solar panel installation in Amherst, Mass. Four SolarCity employees had completed construction of a 19-acre solar farm at Hampshire College when one of the workers attempted to take a cellphone photo of an electrical panel. The employee suffered electrical shock and burn injuries when he entered theunauthorized worker electrical panel which was energized at 13,800 volts.

Federal safety investigators found that Tesla failed to provide workers with adequate training or protective gear. According to OSHA, the four SolarCity workers were wearing only Class 0 safety gloves, a rating which would protect them only up to 1,000 volts of electricity. OSHA found that the workers had each completed a Tesla-mandated online safety class, however they had not been required to demonstrate safety proficiency. Additionally, none of the workers onsite that day could tell investigators how far away they should have been standing from a 13,800-volt energy source, and Tesla hadn’t conducted required inspections of its safety procedures.

Without having demonstrated proficiency following their training, none of the four SolarCity employees could be considered Certified, Authorized, or Competent Persons under the law. OSHA requires that a “competent person” be one who is capable of identifying existing and predictable hazards in the surroundings or working conditions which are hazardous or dangerous to employees, and “who has authorization to take prompt corrective measures to eliminate them.” Without Authorized or Competent Person certification, these were not approved to perform specific electrical duties at the jobsite.

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Arc Flash Incident at Tennessee Nuclear Plant

Two contractors working near a 6.9kV electrical bus were injured in an arc flash incident on March 16th at the Tennessee Valley Authority’s Sequoyah Nuclear Plant near Soddy-Daisy, TN, northeast of Chattanooga.

TVA, Nuclear plant, Arc Flash

According to an event notification report from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) posted Monday, the two contractors were transported to a medical facility for treatment. “The cause of the arc flash is not understood at this time, an accident investigation has been initiated by TVA,” the report said.

The two injured contractors sustained first and second-degree burns. Both are employees of Day & Zimmerman, an engineering, construction and security firm based in Philadelphia. TVA told television station WRCB that it has suspended similar work activities until the cause is understood.

Neither of the workers were shocked or contaminated by radiation in the incident. The TVA’s two nuclear reactors at the site, Sequoyah Unit 1 and Unit 2, remain at 100 percent power, the NRC said.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

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Risk Assessment Could Have Saved Worker’s Life

Singapore – MW Group faces a $200,000 fine resulting from a fatal workplace electrocution. Singapore’s Ministry of Manpower has ruled that a professional Arc Flash Risk Assessment and safe work procedures could have prevented the 2013 fatal electrocution of a worker at the MW Group Pte Ltd’s Pantech Business Hub.

Following a five day trial, MW Group Pte Ltd was convicted for workplace safety and health lapses. The director of the local Occupational Safety and Health Inspectorate stated that the employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution, yet MW Group failed to provide workers with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.

On the day of the electrocution, a MW Group employee was asked to test and calibrate the ARS machine. The worker held a high voltage probe to test the ARS from 2kV to 12kV and during the test he fell backwards and became unconscious. He died later that day, with the cause of death certified as electrocution.

MW Group, an equipment calibration and testing company, is being fined for failing to conduct a specific risk assessment and establish safe work procedures for the calibration and testing of an arc reflection system (ARS) machine. Safety investigations revealed that although MW Group had conducted a generic risk assessment for electrical testing prior to the accident and electrocution was identified as the only hazard, no control measures were put in place. The Energy Market Authority, in its investigations into the accident, concluded that no proper test fixtures were set up before the start of the high voltage calibration works. Additionally, it was determine that the worker did not maintain a safe working distance of approximately 1.5m from the “live” terminals.

The Ministry of Manpower stated that as the DC output voltage level of the ARS gradually increased, this difference between the worker’s body and the probe to test the ARS he was holding resulted in a flashover, or arc flash – a dangerous type of electrical explosion.

Singapore’s director of occupational safety and health inspectorate said that “The employer knew that the technicians were exposed to the risk of electrocution…yet failed to provide the technicians with a step-by-step guide on how to do the job safely.”

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Canadian Mining Company Fined After Preventible Arc Flash Incident

Perth, Australia – First Quantum, a British Columbia-based mining company, has been fined $65,000 by a court in Perth for safety failures that led to a preventible arc flash incident dating from 2011. Unfortunately, First Quantum had identified the potentially deadly workplace danger months before an employee was hurt.

First Quantum Minerals employee Shane Russell suffered burns from an arc flash while working inside an electrical substation at its now-closed Ravensthorpe nickel operation in the southern portion of Western Australia. Mr. Russell was struck by a potentially fatal electrical discharge, suffering burns to his left hand and left side of his face. Russell was hospitalized but did not ultimately suffer any permanent injurypreventible arc flash.

Australia’s Department of Mines, Industry Regulation and Safety said there was no “hard barricade” behind the isolator to prevent accidental contact with uninsulated live bus bars. The department found an internal investigation conducted by First Quantum into an incident in early 2011 and an internal report that identified the danger of working on the motor control center without full isolation. According to that internal document, the potential consequence of an arc flash re-occurrence was identified as being “major” and the likelihood was “possible.”

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TN Lineman Recovering from Arc Flash

Dickson, TN – On August 25, Dickson Electric Systems substation supervisor Zach Spicer suffered second-degree burns to his face and neck in an arc flash incident at the DES Old White Bluff Substation.

According to the victim’s sister-in-law, Spicer “was accessing a breaker cabinet, high voltage side when contact or an arc formed, causing an electrical fault that released heat and energy…He remembers stammering around and seeing everyone’s expression looking at him.”

Two days after the burns, doctors determined that Spicer had not lost his eyesight and during the skin graft surgery they were able to not only save his right hand, but also his fingertips.

Spicer remains at the Vanderbilt Medical Center Burn Unit where he has undergone three surgeries and numerous procedures.

A second Dickson Electric Systems employee also suffered severe barc flashurns to his face and neck in the incident. He was released the evening of the accident and is recovering at home.

An Arc Flash is an electrical explosion caused by a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

Temperatures can exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures rapid heat and expand surrounding air – the extreme change in pressure is known as an arc blast. The arc flash and blast will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors. These conductors expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. The arc flash and blast produce fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

When an arc flash happens, it does so without warning and is lightning quick. The result of this violent event is usually destruction of the equipment involved, fire, and severe injury or death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash which include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

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