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.
Delair, NJ – Aluminum Shapes LLC announced layoffs effecting 61 employees this month as a consequence of heavy fines incurred under the newly implemented increased OSHA fee structure. A statement from Aluminum Shapes reads: “The size of OSHA’s fine as it stands today has forced the company to take these extreme measures.”
The aluminum parts manufacturer was cited in July for 51 safety and health violations following workplace accidents that hospitalized two employees earlier in the year. At that time, Aluminum Shapes management argued that the new OSHA fee structure “results in higher fine amounts and unfair media attention, even as conditions improve.” The total penalty for the 51 violations was $1.9 million as fines for repeat violations have increased from $70,000 per infraction to $124,709 per under the new fine structure.
OSHA fines and penalties increased 78% in the fall of 2016 after legislation took effect which required federal agencies to adjust their civil penalties to account for inflation. The last update to OSHA’s penalty/fine structure occurred in 1990, so this recent jump reflects 26 years without increase or update.
The layoff announcement included 51 unionized workers, 6 front-office staffers, and 4 front-office managers. This affects about 13 percent of the company’s 367 unionized workers. Aluminum Shapes LLC had recently grown from 376 to 480 employees.