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.

Being able to have access to some quality management software can help employers to effectively manage any potential hazards in their business to ensure that accidents like this don’t occur again. It can help to perform audits, inspections, and assessments to help control findings. This software may be able to limit anyone else getting injured like this again.

Ultimately, there is no denying that putting emergency planning measures into place is the only way to prevent future disasters similar to the event described above. Moreover, Emergency planning and response efforts enable workers to discover unrecognized hazardous conditions that can aggravate an emergency situation so that work can be carried out to eliminate them.

Additionally, the planning process may bring to light deficiencies, such as the lack of resources (equipment, trained personnel, supplies), or items that can be corrected before an emergency occurs. In short, an emergency plan promotes safety awareness and shows that an organization is committed to the safety of all workers.

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 determined 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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NZ Electrical Worker Survives Arc Flash Accident

Wellington, New Zealand – An electric utility worker in New Zealand has been awarded more than $85,000 in compensation after suffering serious burns in an electrical arc flash while working at a Wellington substation in 2014. The heat of the arc flash was so severe that the man’s pants melted on his legs.

The electrical accident occurred when two Northpower employees were performing maintenance work on roadside transformers. A bracket fell onto live contacts, causing an electrical short and arc flash. In court, the injured man testified that he had pulled a transformer off a panel, and was then hit by the arc flash and flames.

The electrician, who was 20 when the accident occurred, described the pain, trauma and ongoing effects of the incident in court last week. “I pulled the transformer off the panel and all I could hear was myself arc flash accidentscreaming and the flames and the arc flash,” he told Wellington District Court on Thursday. “All I could feel was intense heat and there was me, running for my life.”

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. Temperatures may exceed 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F.

These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash will likely vaporize all solid copper conductors which will expand up to 67,000 times their original volume when vaporized. An arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel any of which can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.

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.

The court ruled that Wellington Electricity and Northpower failed to provide clear instructions to prompt workers to stop if they encountered increased risks or conditions; was responsible for not shutting off the power before work was undertaken; and for not documenting hazard assessments. The 2014 incident led to immediate changes in Northpower’s work practices, including a new approach to planning and risk assessment.

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2 Killed Maintaining Molding Machines at Kentucky Auto Parts Manufacturer

molding machinesFrankfort, KY – Two employees of Montaplast were killed in separate incidents last fall while maintaining molding machines at the auto parts manufacturing facility.

Angela Mitchell, 35, and Benjamin Cermak, 23, died days apart, both while performing maintenance on molding machines. Mitchell, was killed after a portion of an overhead crane struck her in the head while she was attempting to change a mold in an injection molding machine. Cermak was electrocuted while troubleshooting an incorrectly wired “pigtail” unit adapter that controlled the hydraulics of an injection molding machine.

Kentucky Labor Cabinet’s Office of Occupational Safety and Health (KOSH) has issued Montaplast fines totaling $21,000. “Serious” fines were issued for the plant’s use of swivel hoist rings that were stressed beyond capacity and were found to have not been regularly inspected. These rings failed during the mold change that killed Angela Mitchell.

Additional fines were issued for not using a “lockout-tagout” safety procedure during mold changes. State safety investigators also documented that no personal protective equipment was used during mold changes.

Montaplast makes precision plastic parts and systems for interior and exterior automotive engine components. With 750 employees, Montaplast is Franklin County’s largest private employer.

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Lockout Mistake Electrocutes Florida Worker

Auburndale, FL – A worker was electrocuted this week as a the result of a lockout mistake while attempting to fix a conveyor at Florida Caribbean Distillers.

Aaron Rowe, 33 years old, was reportedly attempting to fix a conveyor belt and had appeared to turn off the power. However, investigation has revealed that a wire connected to the motor was energized and the lockout/tagout system used to cut off power had been affixed to the wrong circuit breaker.

Lockout/Tagout refers to a system of that safety measures designed to properly shutdown machinery and ensure that those machines will not start up again during maintenance or servicing work. OSHA requires that each piece of equipment must have specific lockout procedures written just for it. The lockout procedurelockout mistakes provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source feeding that piece of equipment, which helps to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment, or the release of hazardous energy during service or maintenance activities.

OSHA requires that lockout programs be audited periodically, and on an annual basis at minimum. A lockout audit requires a review of equipment or machine specific lockout procedures to confirm that each procedure accurately reflects the equipment’s energy sources and to identify any deficiencies. Regular lockout audits and evaluations ensure both compliance and a safe work environment.

The Polk County Sheriff’s Office reports that Rowe was pronounced dead at a nearby hospital about an hour after being shocked. OSHA is investigating the incident.

Florida Caribbean Distillers produces rums, whiskeys and fruit liqueurs.

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Worker Fatality at Goodyear Plant in Topeka

Topeka, KS – A worker fatality at the Goodyear Tire facility in Topeka has Goodyear and a local staffing agency facing combined OSHA fines of over $40,000 and multiple federal safety citations.

Kansas Personnel Services had hired James Lay, Jr. to work at the north Topeka Goodyear plant early on March 14 when he was killed. Reports have not detailed the nature of the worker fatality, however officials have classified it as an accident.

OSHA has levied three serious violations against Goodyear Tire and Rubber, Inc. and two more serious penalties against Kansas Personnel Services (which also goes by the name Key Staffing). The combined fines exceed $40,000.

OSHA documented that Goodyear failed to make sure metal pieces leftworker fatality leaning against a wall did not create a hazard; had pendant boxes that were not constructed to prevent electric shock; and did not inspect alloy steel chain slings on a regular basis or did so at intervals greater than a year. In all, Goodyear was fined $27,713.00.

Kansas Personnel Services was fined $12,675 for allegedly failing to make sure metal pieces were left leaning against a wall did not create a hazard; and not ensuring each operator had successfully completed their training.

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Accident at Refinery Power Distribution Center Sends 4 to Hospital

Whiting, IN – The power distribution center at BP’s Whiting Refinery was the scene of an industrial accident last week which sent 4 workers to the hospital.

Details are still limited, but reports from Friday, April 28 indicate that four oil workers were taken by ambulance to area hospitals following an incident at a power distribution center inside the refinery. In a statement, BP said that there was no “impact to power distributionthe environment or the local community.”

The BP Whiting Refinery in northwestern Indiana is described as “sprawling,” and employs more than 1,800 workers as the largest refinery in the Midwest. The facility converts crude oil from Canada and the Dakotas into gasoline sold across the Midwestern United States.

The timing of this industrial accident was unfortunate in that April 28th was Worker’s Memorial Day, an annual event organized by USW chapters nationwide to observe and remember workers killed or injured on the job. Worker’s Memorial Day is designed to highlight workplace safety and accident prevention.

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5 Maintenance Workers Hospitalized after Arc Flash Explosion

Queensland, Australia – Three maintenance workers fixing a power board sustained third-degree burns after an electrical explosion at the JBS processing plant in Ipswich, Queensland (Australia). Two other employees were hospitalized for smoke inhalation related to the accident.

The injuries were likely the result of an arc flash. The maintenance workers suffered severe burns on their upper bodies, faces, and hands.

An arc flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or shortmaintenance workers 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 may exceed 35,000° F (the surface of the sun is 9000° F). These high temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. Such a blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors. When vaporized, these conductors expand up to 67,000 times original volume. As a result, an arc flash  and arc blast produces 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 evne death to any nearby people. Proper safety and protection measures must be taken to limit the damage from an arc flash. These measures include conducting an arc flash study, short circuit study, and NFPA 70E electrical safety training.

The JBS facility is the largest beef plant in the southern hemisphere, with a daily production of 3,350 head per day. JBS in Ipswich employs about 2,000 making it the largest employer in that region.

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Arc Flash Explosion Causes Fires and Leaves Town without Power

Ephrata, WA – An Arc Flash incident in the small town of Ephrata, in Grant County (WA) has left the town without power and caused fires in the downtown area. No injuries have been reported.

Power Utility customers in this small central Washington town were without power after an explosion at a public utility district substation. A substation of the Grant County Public Utility District caught fire after an arc flash that resulted from a fault in the power line. The arc flash in turn caused an explosion of light and sparks which started fires in downtown Ephrata. Utility officials said the outage was caused by equipment failure in the Central Ephrata Substation.

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