London, Ontario – O’Connor Electric Ltd was fined $60,000 this week as a consequence of a Jan 2018 arc flash incident which burned three electrical workers at an Ontario shopping mall. The company plead guilty to failing to establish and implement written measures and procedures to ensure that its workers were adequately protected from electrical shock and burn.
At the time of the arc flash incident, a crew of six were upgrading the service in an electrical room at the mall. The workers were planning on installing a new disconnect switch and wiring. Three O’Connor Electric employees has started installing the disconnect when an arc flash occurred. Canadian Occupational Health and Safety officials determined that the existing service had not been shut down when work began. Mistakenly working on an energized electrical system lead to the arc flash which burned the employees.
In Canadian court proceedings this week, O’Connor Electric Ltd. and one supervisor plead guilty. The supervisor was charged with failing to ensure workers followed OHSA guidelines for properly disconnecting the power supply. The company was charged $55,000 in penalties, and the supervisor was fined $5,000.
Ontario Construction Regulations dictate that power supply “to the electrical equipment, installation or conductor shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged … before the work begins, and kept disconnected, locked out of service and tagged while the work continues.” Accordingly, the Ministry of Labour found that O’Connor Electric failed to establish working conditions compliant with that regulation, and that the supervisor failed to ensure that workers followed the regulations.
Arc flashes are violent and lightning-quick. They can cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment. There are many avenues to mitigate or reduce the risk of arc flash incidents and their threat to electrical and maintenance workers. Contact a member of our Electrical and Industrial Safety team today to discuss Arc Flash Assessment and Labeling, Compliance, and/or Training needs of your staff and facility. At Martin Technical, our goal is always to provide practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.
Strattanville, PA – A 2018 amputation due to machine guarding failures at a PA modular home manufacturing facility lead to an OSHA investigation which revealed numerous workplace safety violation and resulted in a staggering $687,650 in penalties.
On the topic of machine guarding failures, OSHA’s local Area Office Director stated that “moving machine parts have the potential to cause severe workplace injuries if they are not safeguarded…Employers’ use of machine guards and devices is not optional. Employers are legally responsible for ensuring that machine operators are protected.”
In the investigation triggered by the November 2018 amputation, OSHA documented Champion Modular employees’ exposure to numerous workplace safety hazards. Some of the machine guarding failures included damaged plastic guards on a table saw which exposed employees to the saw blade, work rests on grinding machinery not adjusted properly, a grinder was being used without the proper guard, and a hand-fed circular ripsaw found without a spreader and missing a kickback device.
Hazards caused by combustible dust were also evident at the Champion Modular facility. Combustible dust was found to have accumulated in the higher areas of the facility, which posed an increased risk of fire. Additionally, a dust collector that was not equipped with devices and systems to prevent fire was noted as having the potential to expose employees to fire, burn, and deflagration hazards.
Violations of federal Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) machine safety standards was another a part of the citations and penalties OSHA issued. OSHA inspectors found equipment and machinery at the manufacturing facility that was missing lockout/tagout procedures altogether. Additionally, Champion Modular allegedly failed to perform periodic inspections of machine servicing and equipment maintenance procedures.
OSHA investigators also noted electrical safety violations and hazards at the PA manufacturing facility. Electrical equipment was found installed and/or in use outside of the intended purpose, not in compliance with instructions. Inspectors noted duct tape and electrical tape being used to cover up and hold together a damaged control pendant.
Violations and fines of this magnitude are avoidable through conscientious workplace safety programs – Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts simplify complex workplace safety practices by applying real-world solutions for Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety & Safety Consulting Services.
Hayden, AZ – Three workers burned severely by arc flash hazards found at an Arizona metal smelting and extraction facility triggered an OSHA investigation which lead to this week’s announcement of penalties totaling $278,456.
The federal workplace safety agency released its citation against ASARCO this week, claiming two willful violations and one serious violation of electrical hazards standards at the Hayden (AZ) facility.
In its investigation of the arc flash, OSHA inspectors determined that the arc flash occurred after the insertion of a breaker into a 4,160V switchgear. ASARCO was cited for three violations of electrical safety standards: failure to provide the workers with a pre-job briefing before starting work on the energized switchgear, failure to render the electrical breaker inoperable before work began, and failures in providing the employees with arc-flash protective clothing (also known at PPE).
OSHA’s Regional Administrator stated that “arc flash hazards are well known, but can be eliminated when workers are properly trained and protective equipment is provided.”
Not only is electrical safety training required by OSHA, but it’s a vital piece of fulfilling an arc flash analysis or electrical safety program. Once electrical labels are visible, workers need to know how to properly understand the program and read the labels. Employees also need to understand the importance of properly care for their PPE, and how to do so. The need for every worker to understand electrical safety for their equipment and tasks in particular can not be over-stated.
Read more about Arc Flash Analysis and common pitfalls on our website, and contact a member of our Electrical Safety Team today to discuss how Martin Technical can bring awareness to arc flash hazards, get your facility compliant, and increase the safety of your workforce. Martin Technical is the leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer, and more efficient.
Lapel, IN – Three serious safety violations were found at the Owens-Illinois Bottling facility in Lapel, Indiana. The Indiana Occupational Safety and Health Administration (IOSHA) issued $13,500 in fines for safety violations inspectors which it determined could have led to serious worker injury.
In an investigation last fall, IOSHA found serious safety violations including insufficient employee training and failure to lockout an electrical box while it was in the process of being repaired.
The serious safety violation related to Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) states that lockout “procedures were not developed, documented and utilized for the control of potentially hazardous energy,” during machine maintenance at Owens-Illinois’ Indiana bottling plant.
Additionally, Owens-Illinois was found to have failed to properly train employees on lockout/tagout and machine safety. OSHA requires that employers provide training to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control or LOTO programs are understood by employees.
The third serious safety violation concerned unused openings in electrical boxes, raceways, and other electrical equipment which were not closed when IOSHA conducted their investigation. Safety inspectors cited Owens-Illinois for failure to protect employees and equipment from exposure to electrical hazards.
Electrical safety, Lockout/Tagout, and training on both of these important components of workplace safety are at the heart of Martin Technical’s suite of safety services. Martin Technical is a leading provider of practical safety and efficiency services that make industrial plants and facilities better, safer and more efficient. Our experts can help simplify the complex by applying real-world solutions for Lockout/Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessments, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting Services. Please call a member of our Industrial Safety Team today to discuss how to improve safety and efficiency at your facility.
The eternal battle is production versus safety, and at the very center of this is lockout, or better – avoiding lockout. The complaint, by both production and maintenance is that locking out equipment takes too long, or if they lockout, getting the machine back on line could be difficult. They will also argue that the machines have interlock controls that provide effective levels of protection and allow workers to efficiently (and safely) complete their work. The truth: maybe, maybe not.
Interlock systems (machine sensors)
An interlock is a device that will prevent one element from changing (moving), due to a state in another element. Interlocks in the work setting include electromagnetic switches, RFID proximity switches, light curtains, trap key interlock’s, etc. Interlocks open control circuits but do not isolate equipment from hazardous energy.
A good example to understand interlock is to examine your home washing machine. Washing machines have limit switches (newer models have both limit switches and lid locks) that would not allow the washing machine to run if the lid was in the open position. Raise your hand if as a child growing up you used a pen or a pencil (maybe your finger) to push that limit switch and watch the washing machine go around (author hand in the air). The limit switch (interlock safety device) keeps the machine from moving, but does it isolate it from the energy source? The limit switch does not unplug the electrical cord and turn the cold and hot water valves to the off position. And under the right circumstances (accidentally pushing down on the limit switch with your hand), the interlock can fail in its purpose and activate the machine
Interlocks have been used for decades and are one of the most misunderstood and improperly used safety devices installed on equipment. Their intended use, reliability and integrity from a safety perspective has evolved, where now there are Category 1, 2, 3 and 4 systems. These safety devices were to prevent accidents. They do not provide the equivalent level of protection that lockout provides, which is the OSHA standard. In our example of the washing machine, in terms of current OSHA language, as a child I was bypassing a guard and defeating a safety device. Technically, these are now considered Category 1 Interlock Controls. Similar devices are used every day under the guise of providing effective protection against the expected (or unexpected) start up or release of hazardous energy. Sadly, workers are injured and killed every year due to the failure or misuse of these perceived safety devices.
Interlock systems applied
Your company has Machine “X”, which is currently guarded by Plexiglas around all working parts, with interlocked access doors for workers to access. Operators are charged daily with clearing jams during their shift, which requires the worker to open an interlocked access door. This will stop the machine from running and allow the worker to clear the jam. When completed, the worker closes the door and the machine returns to normal operation.
This scenario plays out every day in companies across the United States and yet, this is in violation of the OSHA standard if the accidental energization of the machine would create a hazard for the worker. Machine “X” is still energized, and we are asking the worker to bypass a guard (they reach through the plane of the Plexiglas), place part of their body in the danger zone or at the point of operation. In this case, lockout should be applied because of the nature of the task and the measures of control in place. These types of interlocks are installed to protect workers in case they were suddenly exposed (door is opened) to an area where body parts should be placed. Over time, these interlocks have been integrated (wrongly) into the daily routines and tasks of production and maintenance where sentiment is that this is “safe” and “compliant.” Neither is true.
These types of task are often repeated several times per shift, to several times per hour. If the worker was to lockout the machine each time, they would spend a large amount of their work day locking the machine out and then returning to service. OSHA leaves it to the employer to determine (and document) what is acceptable in terms of protection when it comes to Alternative Measures of Control. The ANSI Z244.1 standard has recently provided in its 2017 update some guidance on how to determine if the Interlock Control Devices provide equivalent level of protection.
Much has advanced in the technology, reliability and integrity of Interlock systems over the past two decades. The industry has seen the development and deployment of Category 3 and Category 4 Interlock Control Devices. These systems have been proven to increase productivity (uptime) and decrease lockout (downtime), but they do come with a requirement of significant investment in time and resource to install, implement and maintain, and still do not meet OSHA requirements. From the scenario on Machine X, it would be a wise investment to install an interlock system to save a few minutes, several times an hour — which then does increase your production uptime AND protect your workers from hazardous energy.
Too often we find ourselves in conversations with customers who are looking for solutions to avoid lockout as a means to increase production uptime. The majority of the industry has equipment that requires three or fewer locks/devices to achieve a zero-energy state. There is a good argument to use Interlock Control Devices in a particular industry, with particular equipment and involving particular tasks. Invest and protect wisely for true gains in uptime and worker safety.
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.
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.
Cicrero, IL – Electronic Plating Co. has been fined more than $157,000 for numerous safety and health violations. An OSHA inspection of the metal plating company in the west suburban Chicago area resulted in one willful, eight repeat, eight serious, and one-other-than serious violation. These included exposing workers to dangerous metals, and machinery and live electrical hazards.
OSHA found the following violations: lack of personal protective equipment for metal and other hazardous chemical exposure; electrical safety hazards; inadequate worker training on hazardous chemicals; workers exposed to operating mechanical and electrical parts because equipment lacked guards; among others.
Unfortunately, Electronic Plating Co. was found to be in violation of eight of the same violations in 2011, triggering the repeat violation categorization.
Jackson, MO – On Aug. 17, 2015, OSHA cited DW Wahlco Tool Inc for one repeated and 12 serious safety and health violations, including a lack of machine safety guards. Inspectors went to Wahlco to investigate how a 54-year-old employee lost four fingers using a machine at the facility. Wahlco had been cited in 2013 for not having machine safety guards, which OSHA said could have prevented the March 19 amputation. Proposed penalties total $74,480.
Inspectors also found the company failed to train employees about machine hazards and combustible dust; did not turn off machinery before servicing; lacked housekeeping to control dust; operated an inadequate respiratory control program; and did not provide protective equipment for employees working with energized electrical parts.
The OSHA investigation found fire hazards that could have caused an explosion. Any combustible material can burn rapidly when in a finely divided form, according to OSHA, and even materials that do not burn in larger pieces can be explosive in dust form under certain conditions. Occupational Safety and Health Administration inspectors found “extensive combustible dust and potential sources of ignition” at D.W. Wahlco Tool.
“One worker suffered a life-altering injury, and excessive combustible dust at Wahlco made for a disaster waiting to happen,” Bill McDonald, OSHA’s area director in St. Louis, said in the release. “For the second time in two years, the company intentionally disregarded OSHA standards and requirement for machine safety — an unacceptable practice.”
New Britain, CT – OSHA has cited 24 safety violations at Metallurgical Processing, Inc. and the company faces $77,000 in proposed fines as a result. OSHA’s Hartford (CT) Area Office initiated an investigation in January after employees complained about hazardous conditions at the site. Metallurgical Processing Inc. conducts heat treatments on metal components.
The 24 violations include employees being exposed to assorted fire, explosion, chemical and mechanical risks. Infractions included failing to supply protective garments and tools to employees who were performing live electrical work, failing to inspect a pipe system that carries anhydrous ammonia, not installing a pressure relief valve on a nitrogen tank and improper storage of chemicals and flammable materials.
According to OSHA, the firm also didn’t have adequate regulations in place for employees who work in confined spaces or sufficient safeguards for workers who have to use respirators.
Wilmington, DE – OSHA has proposed $86,800 in fines against Franklin Fibre-Lamitex Corporation, a manufacturer of industrial plastics. These fines stem from a dozen safety violations that officials say exposed workers to fire hazards, electrical shock and possible amputation.
The violations were recorded during repeat inspections of the company’s plant in Wilmington, DE. The most serious citation accuses Franklin Fibre of knowingly allowing combustible dust to accumulate on rafters, walls, floors and machinery. Inspectors said the plant specifically failed to operate a properly functioning dust-collection system or provide employees with flame-retardant clothing.
“People hear the word ‘dust’ and they don’t think ‘deadly’ – but under the right circumstances, a combustible dust explosion can level a building,” said Erin G. Patterson, director of OSHA’s Wilmington Area Office, said in a statement. “The machines at this facility generated the kind of dust that can cause a fatal, destructive explosion,” he said. “It’s critical that Franklin Fibre remove this hazard before a tragic incident occurs.”
Inspectors also cited the company for numerous electrical hazards – including exposed wires and dangling, ungrounded junction boxes – as well as operating lathes and table saws without the proper guards, and failing to adequately train some employees on how to use fire extinguishers or identify hazardous chemical labels.
OSHA reports that Franklin Fibre “is implementing interim abatement measure to address the combustible dust hazards until … a new dust collection system is installed” and that all other hazards identified in the citations have been abated by the company, she said.