3 Electrical Incidents in 24 hours in Ontario

Ontario, Canada- September 19th was Black Thursday in Ontario’s electrical sector with three separate incidents of workers contacting overhead wires causing two electrocution deaths and injuring two others.

The spate of mishaps left construction, electrical and health and safety stakeholders upset, frustrated and searching for answers.

“The Electrical Safety Authority is very saddened to hear any time there are incidents of an electrical nature,” said Dr. Joel Moody, the ESA’s chief public safety officer. “Our thoughts are with the families who have experienced loss.”

Two of the three involved construction work. The third, in Kawartha Lakes, was at a private home where workers trimming a hedge on an elevated work platform contacted a powerline. One worker died and the other was injured.

In Vaughan, a Ministry of Labour report said a worker employed by Pontil Drilling Services sustained fatal injuries when a drill boom made contact with overhead power lines.

In Scarborough, east Toronto, a worker for Darcon was injured when a tower crane hit an overhead powerline. The job site constructor is Paramount Structures.

“This is a stark reminder of the dangers of working near electricity and clearly shows there is a need for more to be done to keep workers safe,” said James Barry, executive chairman of the IBEW Construction Council of Ontario, in an online statement.

There have been 1,250 reported overhead powerline contacts in Ontario in the last 10 years with an average of two deaths per year, making the pair of fatalities on Sept. 19 a full year’s worth statistically. The ESA says construction workers are at especially high risk with 60 per cent of powerline contacts occurring with dump trucks on construction sites.

The ESA responded to the mishaps with a statement urging awareness of the specific hazards related to working near wires. It’s a message that echoes those of the ESA’s Powerline Safety Week awareness campaign that’s launched at the start of construction season each May in Canada.

The ESA also works with utilities, haulers and arborists on a regular basis, Moody said.

“We urge situational awareness with a hazard assessment being the first thing they should do,” he said. “Be aware of your surroundings.”

“All of these incidents are preventable. Electricity is very lethal and unforgiving and having safe work practices every day is very important.”

“For the most part, if you look at the utilities, they live and breathe health and safety,” Kelusky said. “These weren’t utility workers, the guys dealing with the live stuff, they deal with it with great respect and understanding. That is a cultural thing from top to bottom.”

Despite the incidents of Sept. 19, Kelusky said, the statistics show construction is getting safer and that the construction sector in the province is developing a more integrated safety culture.

Responding to the comment urging that more be done, Kelusky said a major focus of his office is linking the diverse efforts of the health and safety community. His office has recently pledged to work with Ontario’s Industrial Health and Safety Association to undertake more research to be able to provide stronger tools to employers.

The approach to falls across the province in the last decade is a good example of how research can lead to program development and working with employers and employees to deliver results, Kelusky explained.

“What we want to do is supply labor and employers with more information other than, if you touch that it will hurt you,” he said, referring to electrical hazards. “We did that with falls and touch wood that seems to be going well.”

Looking ahead, Kelusky said, there are positive signs from Queen’s Park with the auditor general conducting a much-needed review of health and safety programs, the government reviewing the WSIB and signals from the new Minister of Labor, Monte McNaughton, that he is keenly interested in health and safety and working collaboratively with stakeholders. That’s on top of the WSIB’s new Health and Safety Excellence Program and the continuing growth of COR.

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Fatality in Pallet Factory and 2 other Workers Injured in Sydney

Sydney, Australia- A 30-year-old man was crushed to death at a pallet factory in Sydney’s west, one of three industrial accidents across the city on Wednesday. Ambulance crews were called to a pallet factory at Forrester Road in St Marys about 5:40am, where they found a 30-year-old man with severe head injuries. Paramedics treated the man at the scene but he could not be saved.

As mentioned, this was only one of the multiple recent industrial accidents in this area of Australia this week.

In the city’s east, a man is in a critical condition following a workplace accident at an address in Point Piper. Emergency crews were called to a home on Longworth Avenue about 7:30am, after receiving reports a man had fallen 8 to 10 meters from a scaffolding fall.

In Pyrmont, a worker has been taken to hospital with head injuries after he was struck by falling pipes.

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Amputation Hazards Found at AL Food Processing Plant

Brundidge, AL – Southern Classic Food Group LLC faces $164,997 in fines following citations for amputation and other hazards stemming from separate incidents in which two employees were hospitalized, one for a finger amputation and one for burns.

In the first incident brought to their attention, OSHA stated that an employee suffered burns while using hot water under pressure. Just six days later, another employee suffered an amputation to the tip of the finger.

In the course of their investigation, OSHA found that Southern Classic Food Group exposed employees to amputation hazards; neglected to implement lockout/tagout procedures to control hazardous energy and failed to train employees on these procedures; failed to ensure employees isolated energy sources; and did not provide personal protective equipment or implement a bloodborne pathogen program. 

One OSHA citation was for neglecting to make sure workers isolated energy sources before performing line-breaking work. Lockout/Tagout (LOTO) and Hazardous Energy Control/Control of Hazardous Energy refers to the same standard of preventing unexpected start up or movement of equipment. Machines that start up unexpectedly during maintenance are common causes of industrial injury and amputation. Proper application of lockout-tagout (or hazardous energy controls) violations are on OSHA’s Top 10 “Most Often Cited Violations” and Top 10 “Most Serious Violations” lists.

Approximately 3 million workers in the US service equipment and face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. Compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents an estimated 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

Risk of amputation is a hazard of conducting maintenance work on industrial machinery, which is why OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies, practices, and procedures. Training ensures that the purpose and function of an energy control program is understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

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Fatality at Australian Power Plant Reportedly Caused by Arc Flash

Yallourn, Victoria, Australia – A fatal explosion at an Australian Power Station is said to have been the result of a phase-to-phase arc flash. A unit controller with more than 30 years’ experience was critically injured during the explosion in the southeastern-most state of Australia which lead to his death the next day.

EnergyAustralia has identified arc flash as the cause of the explosion at the Yallourn Power Station, however a local union representative is not confident in that explanation and staff at the power station say they are afraid to go to work.

Graeme Edwards died after a high-voltage circuit breaker he was working on exploded last month. Edwards was re-installing a high-voltage circuit breaker on one of the plant’s four generation units when the explosion occurred, a procedure known as “racking.” EnergyAustralia stated that racking is a routine job but potentially hazardous. In this case, the unit burst into flames that burnt most of Edwards’ body. The worker was flown to hospital in a critical condition but died a day later.fatality arc flash

EnergyAustralia said it believed the “sudden electrical discharge” was caused by a “phase-to-phase arc flash.” However, they have yet to determine what caused the short circuit which is the source of union and worker worries about the safety of the workplace.

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. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode and can result in an arc-plasma fireball with temperatures in excess of 35,000° F. For reference, the surface of the sun is 9000° F. These extreme temperatures cause rapid heating of surrounding air and extreme pressures, resulting in an arc blast. The arc flash/blast can vaporize all solid copper conductors as they expand up to 67,000 times original volume. The arc flash produces fire, intense light, pressure waves, and flying shrapnel.

Yallorn Power Station workers will not be asked to use affect equipment involved in the incident until EnergyAustralia determines that it is safe to do so. An executive of Yallourn Power Station has said that risk assessments are being conducted and that all safety controls will be reviewed prior to resuming work.

A representative of the union which advocates for the workers at Yallourn Power station has voiced concerns that workers were not provided with the most up-to-date protective gear, including arc flash suits, similar to what bomb disposal workers use.

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Lockout Accident Costs Employee 1 Finger and Ice Cream Co $103,000

Lakewood, NJ – A preventable lockout/tagout accident at a New Jersey ice cream manufacturer has left one employee missing a finger and the company owing $103,000 in fines to OSHA.

OSHA fined the ice cream maker, Mister Cookie Face, located near Rutgers University, $103,000 after an employee lost a finger and fractured another while performing maintenance on a machine. An inspection by the U.S. Department of Labor found numerous “machine safety hazards,” according to a release from the department.

The department cited the company, which manufactures ice cream bars and sandwiches, for not having a safety lockout procedure on the machine that would have prevented it from starting unexpectedly during maintenance activities.

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 machinery or equipment that may result in injuring a worker.  As OSHA’s regional director stated, “this injury could have been avoided with worker training and the use of lockout/tagout procedures.”

Mister Cookie Face was also penalized for not making sure employees used “personal protective equipment,” not providing an eyewash station where employees used corrosive chemicals and for exposing its employees to “bloodborne pathogen hazards.”

The Mister Cookie Face is owned by Fieldbrook Foods Corp of Dunkirk, New York.

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NJ Lumber Co Fined $106,432 for Lockout Failures

Medford, NJ – DuBell Lumber has been issued $106,432 in OSHA penalties following a federal workplace safety investigation that revealed multiple failures to protect the health and safety of workers at its New Jersey facility.

DuBell Lumber was investigated in response to a complaint of workplace safety and health hazards. Federal safety inspectors identified failures to properly control combustible dust resulting from wood processing; failures to train employees on how to control the release of hazardous energy; failures in DuBell’s lockout/tagout procedures and program; and failing to install machine guards to protect employees from amputations.

Lockout, or lockout/tagout, procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment. These written procedures help to prevent the unexpected startup of machinery or equipment that may result in a worker injury.

lockout

Millions of American workers service equipment each day – these employees face the greatest risk of injury if lockout/tagout is not properly implemented. It is estimated that compliance with the federal lockout/tagout standard prevents 120 fatalities and 50,000 injuries each year. Workers injured on the job from exposure to hazardous energy lose an average of 24 workdays for recuperation.

OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Training is done to ensure that the purpose and function of the energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by employees.

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Worker Fatally Struck in Pressure Release Accident

pressure releaseTar Heel, NC – The North Carolina division of OSHA has launched an investigation into operations at the Smithfield Packing Plant in Bladen County (NC) after a mechanic was killed in a pressure release accident on the job last week.

According to sources, the fatal workplace accident began when Michael Jessup (age 55) became trapped in a piece of machinery. Jessup was performing repairs on a conveyor belt and was on a scissor lift at the time of the accident.

NC Department of Labor stated that Jessup “was struck in the head by a cylinder while trying to remove a bent wheel from a chain drive. The employee switched the airline hoses to relieve pressure from the chain when [he] was stuck.”

Emergency personnel were called to the facility where they pronounced the man dead at the scene as a result of trauma to the head. Jessup had been employed by Smithfield for about a decade.

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AL Auto Workers Exposed to Electrical and Amputation Hazards

electrical amputation hazardsAuburn, AL – Arkal Automotive USA Inc. faces $47,857 in proposed federal workplace safety penalties after an investigation of its Auburn (AL) plant revealed that workers were exposed to electrical and amputation hazards.

According to OSHA, Arkal Automotive was cited for inadequate machine guarding, failure to implement lockout/tagout (LOTO) procedures to keep workers safe during machine maintenance and servicing, failing to implement safety procedures for entering a robotic cage, and for exposing employees to hazardous energy.

OSHA’s fines and citations were issued following a complaint that employees were not properly protected while entering injection molding machines. Joseph Roesler, OSHA’s area office director, stated that “Arkal Automotive USA Inc. failed to identify and correct hazards to ensure the safety and health of their employees.”

Multiple lockout/tagout failures were revealed in the course of the OSHA investigation. Arkal Automotive was found lacking proper lockout procedures for working with robots or molds, including when removing parts or cleaning molds. Additionally, safety inspectors found an insufficient amount of the required lockout equipment for employees to use for hazardous energy control. The OSHA complaint said the company failed to ensure that if more than one employee was working in a robotic area, each employee had individual lockout devices.

It was also reported that Arkal Automotive failed to ensure continuity of lockout procedures on shift change and did not have adequate machine guarding when employees reached under a portion of a robot cage to retrieve parts and pass to the operator while the machine was running.

According to OSHA records, the same facility was issued four serious violations in 2017 for lockout hazards and other violations.

Arkal Automotive is a company based in Israel, with production plants worldwide. The Auburn (AL) injection molding plant opened in 2011, and is their only production plant in the US. The Auburn facility produces door carriers, wheel liners and other functional auto parts.

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Safety 3rd  – The Mike Rowe Approach

Jim Schuster
Martin Technical, Inc.
05/26/2018

Industrial safety is not a glamorous, and there really aren’t any household names that are recognized across the industry, so when a celebrity talks about safety on a national tv show it’s pretty much the pinnacle of exposure for the safety industry. Mike Rowe of Dirty Jobs fame has been a proponent of skilled labor and safety for a long time, and recently he was speaking about his “Safety Third” philosophy on the Tucker Carlson Tonight show. In this clip at the 1:55 mark, Mike Rowe explains his view of safety and the expectations of what happens when we elevate the values of safety to “Safety First”.

As Mike explains, it’s not that safety isn’t important, but rather that “Safety First” can set expectations that somebody else in charge cares more about your safety and well-being than you do, and that if you just follow their processes, you will be safe.  This is an excellent point as transferring your safety to another person or process can lead to complacency and reduce safety to background noise in your daily work.  By stating “Safety Third”, Mike is trying to start a conversation and make people think instead of just following a rule or checking a box for their safety.  This is much like the approach of posting speed limit signs at “14 Miles Per Hour” instead of the common “15” which is just enough of a deviation that it makes people stop, take notice and process their actions.

Where Mike is right is that the first line of safety is personal responsibility and self-awareness, which should be practiced always and not just when going through mandatory safety checks.  What we are talking about is a hot topic in the industry; safety behavior.  The challenge however is the complex set of traits for each individual and changing the behavior of each individual.  Each person has their own physical and cognitive abilities, values, risk tolerance and behavior and the expectations of having everyone on the same level of personal responsibility for safety simply isn’t realistic.  Guys like Mike are smart and experienced, but we also have to deal with the 22-year-old rock climber that would prefer to scale the racking system instead of using a forklift (yes, this was a real situation), or the new worker who just started and is afraid to ask which valve to turn in fear of looking incompetent and getting fired.  So even though an individual may exercise good personal safety behavior, it’s not enough as they are still subject to others in their environment who don’t have the same abilities or care and may create a dangerous situation for those near them.

So despite best efforts by any individual to assess the risks and take safety into their own hands, we don’t always have control of unexpected events such as the co-worker turning the wrong valve on, a machine failing, or to bring it home to a level that everyone can relate to; a driver absent mindedly running a red light.  This is why we wear seat belts; not that we are expecting ourselves to fail, but for the unexpected failure of another person or machine or unplanned circumstances such as hydroplaning on an oil glistening street after a light rain.  And with this comes safety precautions, processes, checklists, and training to the point of numbness, which is where we pick it back up with Mike.

The infinity of safety procedures, signs and training is required to provide the knowledge and awareness to the workers for their safety and has statistically proven to greatly reduce injuries, so it’s not that this needs to go away as much as the volume of it or repetitiveness of it can seem like a process running in the background that creates an environment of complacency.   Routine creates comfort, and as long as there is no incidents, the routine actions, safety processes and training disappear further and further into the background.

So how do we make safety more relevant and important?  The key is bringing things home to a personal level and expanding beyond the forms and processes and into individual responsibility.  Mike has done an excellent job with his crew by stating “Safety Third” which everyone knows that the expectation is that safety is your hands and not to count on a company, process or another individual for your safety.  It is a big leap of faith for a safety manager to state that they are not responsible for your safety and put the responsibility back on the individual, but it’s a conversation that needs to happen.  And to expand upon that, individuals need to know they are also responsible for the safety of others, which is how you build a true and proper safety culture.  Further, safety needs to be personally relevant to be understood and practiced.  Informing workers of codes and standards isn’t enough.  Mike’s safety failures have resulted in numerous injuries, which

The other part that makes Mike program successful is his personal failures and his ability to transfer that to others.  Mike is safety nut because he has had short mental lapses that resulted in injuries and forced him to re-think his safety and the safety of his crew.  His scars and broken bones tell a story that make it personal and that others can relate to.  This makes people stop and evaluate their personal situation instead of simply following processes, which is the whole point of Mike’s approach.  Safety needs to be on a personal level and informing someone about a code will never have as much impact as an emotional connection to someone’s job and the realization that they or a co-worker may not make it home this evening.

As odd as it may seem, “Safety 3rd” may be a good mantra for developing a strong safety culture at your plant or facility by disrupting the routine and reminding everyone that safety may be the priority of the company or organization, but ultimately you can’t count on others for your safety and need to take responsibility for yourself and your co-workers.  Safety managers can provide you all the training, tools and procedures you could ever need,  but it you don’t use them and take personal responsibility….that’s on you.

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Worker Killed in Preventable Conveyor Accident

Mount Laurel, NJ – Lockout/tagout training and machine guards could have saved the life of 23-year-old Dakota LaBrecque. That’s the finding of federal workplace safety inspectors following a 2017 worker fatality at Springfield Power LLC’s Springfield (NH) biomass plant.

EWP Renewable (doing business as Springfield Power LLC) faces $125,460 in fines following the employee fatality. OSHA has cited EWP Renewable Corp. for 25 safety violations after 23-year-old employee Dakota LaBrecque was pulled into a conveyor and died from his injuries.

In investigating the facility after the worker’s death, federal workplace safety inspectors found that the conveyor and other machinery lacked required safety guarding, and employees were not trained in lockout/tagout procedures to prevent equipment from unintentionally starting.

Springfield Power was also cited for fall hazards; electric shock and arc flash hazards; and a lack of adequate emergency evacuation, fire prevention, aworker killed conveyornd hazardous energy control programs.

Rosemarie Cole, OSHA’s New Hampshire area director, stated that EWP Renewable’s “failure to protect employees resulted in a tragedy that could have been prevented if training was provided and machinery was appropriately guarded.”

OSHA requires equipment specific lockout procedures for each piece of equipment. These lockout/tagout procedures provide detailed instruction on how to isolate and lock each energy source for a given piece of equipment, helping to prevent the unexpected energization or startup of machinery and equipment. Martin Technical’s Rapid LOTO lockout procedure development program is designed to provide high quality procedures that are easy to follow.

Additionally, OSHA requires that employees be trained on lockout policies and procedures. Proper training ensures that the purpose and function of the lockout/tagout or energy control program are understood by employees and that the knowledge and skills required for the safe application, usage, and removal of the energy controls are acquired by the workforce.

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 & Safety Consulting Services. Contact a member of our professional safety services team today.

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