Monaca, PA – Workers were killed and injured by toxic fumes while working in a confined space at the Bruce Mansfield Power Station in Beaver County (PA) last week. Two contractors died after inhaling toxic fumes in an underground pit, and three workers above the pit were overcome by toxic gas and hospitalized. If toxic fumes become present in your workplace then you should find a solution to stop workers being killed or injured.
The contractors worked for Enerfab Corp. and were in a ‘confined, well-type’ area. The two workers in the pit, removed an elbow joint in a pipe which released hydrogen sulfide gas into the air in the confined space. 34-year-old Kevin Bachner and 42-year-old John Gorchock, both of Pittsburgh (PA), died.
Many workplaces contain areas that are considered “confined spaces” because while they are not necessarily designed for people, they are large enough for workers to enter and perform certain jobs. A confined space also has limited or restricted means for entry or exit and is therefore very dangerous in an emergency. Confined spaces require special signage, safety protocols, and equipment.
The Mansfield Power Station, located about 35 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, is FirstEnergy’s largest coal-fired plant and remains operational. 350 people are employed there.
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.
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.
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.”