Worker Deaths Spur MSHA Safety Alert on Electrical Hazards

Arlington, VA- Prompted by reports of three recent fatalities involving electricity, the Mine Safety and Health Administration has issued a safety alert.

Electricity has killed three people in the mining industry since August 7, 2019.

An electrician contacted an energized component of a 4,160 VAC electrical circuit while adjusting the linkage between the disconnect lever and the internal components of the panel that supplied power to the plant feed belt motors. A contract electrician contacted an energized 120 VAC conductor while working inside a fire suppression system’s electrical
panel. An electrician contacted an exposed energized connector while troubleshooting a 995 VAC flooded bed scrubber motor circuit on-board a continuous mining machine.Electrical Safety Alert

MSHA offers numerous best practices for electrical incident prevention. Among them:

-Perform lockout/tagout procedures on circuits before working on electrical equipment.

-Don’t rush, and never work alone. Talk with co-workers and confirm your plan is safe.

-Identify and control all hazardous energy sources before conducting tasks, and follow safe work procedures.

-Train miners on equipment they may use.

-Always perform troubleshooting without power. If you must troubleshoot an energized circuit, use properly rated personal protective equipment to prevent hazards.

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Lockout Accident Kills Contractor at IN Ethanol Plant

Bluffton, IN – Valero Renewable Fuels was the site of a workplace death this month caused by a lockout accident. A 42-year-old contractor was found dead at the plant, his body trapped in a piece of machinery.

Ryan West became trapped in machinery while working as a contractor at the Valero Renewable Fuels ethanol plant in Bluffton, IN. Local police have stated that Valero employees called 911 saying they couldn’t find West and feared he had been in an accident. When emergency responders arrived, they found his body caught in a piece of equipment. West was employed by Diversified Industrial Services, a grain equipment supplier, and was performing maintenance work on a large auger.

Lockout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the startup of machinerylockout accident or equipment that may result in worker injury. Lockout/Tagout is also known as LOTO or Control of Hazardous Energy. These terms refers to the same safety standard and procedures and practices designed to prevent the unexpected start up or movement of equipment, especially crucial during maintenance or service work.

A study conducted by the United Auto Workers revealed that 20% of fatalities among their membership were attributed to inadequate hazardous energy control or lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures. An estimated 3 million workers service equipment as a part of their work duties. These employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the lockout/tagout standard is said to prevent approximately 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year at facilities across the US.

Indiana’s arm of OSHA is investigating this latest incident, while local news media are reporting a history of safety violations at the ethanol plant. Earlier this year, Valero’s Bluffton plant was fined for “serious safety violations” involving machinery safety and lockout/tagout.

Tragedies such as this lockout accident in Indiana are preventable. Please contact a Lockout Specialist at Martin Technical today to discuss how we can help to make your plant or facility better, safer, and more efficient with the support of our suite of Lockout Tagout, Arc Flash, Electrical Safety, Risk Assessment, Training, Machine Safety, and Safety Consulting services.

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