2 Dead in Australian Electrical Maintenance Accident

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.”

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OSHA Fines WI Furniture Maker $1.76 Million

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.

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Electrical Explosion in Detroit Blows Manhole Covers

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 situationelectrical explosion 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.

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