Contractor Safety Share

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Arc Flash Causes Burn

Arc Flash Causes Burn


A journeyman electrician was working on a Motor Control Center (MCC) panel to perform maintenance to a bucket switch. The electrician shut the local disconnect switch off, which shuts off the load leaving the bucket switch. However, he left the power to the main lugs and jumper wires on. While cleaning the blades, which were indicating hot spots, the electrician removed two plastic guards, which exposed live parts. Behind the guards he noticed what appeared to be a loose lug. Using a screwdriver, he reached into the panel to tighten the lug. While the screwdriver was touching the live lug, the shaft of the screwdriver made contact with a flange on the panel. The result was a direct short, which caused an arc flash. The flash caused burns to his face and hand.

Factors to consider at your site and/or project include, but not limited to the following:

  1. Whenever new hazards become known or the job task changes, stop your work and re-evaluate the situation. If additional PPE is required or new/revised permits are needed, make the changes before resuming your work.
  2. Working on energized equipment is extremely dangerous and should be done after all avenues that allow de-energized work to be performed have been explored. Do not perform energized work if it is at all possible to de-energize it. 
  3. In some power systems, the work required to de-energize the power system may be more hazardous than doing the work energized. Examples of increased or additional hazards and when energized work may be performed include interruption of life support systems, deactivation of emergency alarm systems, shutdown of hazardous location ventilation equipment, or removal of illumination for an area.
  4. When working with energized electrical equipment, make sure appropriate PPE is used such as insulated tools and arc flash protection.
Consider this example as you complete today’s work activities.

Safety Flash Action Items:
  • Date Contractor Safety Flash posted for all employees to review: _______________
  • Safety Talk meeting date: _______________
  • Full employee attendance and participation at safety meeting to review this incident (documentation required).
  • Employees understand urgency in protecting themselves and others.
  • Supervisors and Employees are clear which items shared in this Safety Flash are mandatory.
  • Employees/Supervisors will focus on recommended actions during future work activities of a similar nature.
Contract Firm Management Rep Signature____________________

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THINK about the hazards associated with your particular work, and the steps that can be taken to increase safety on your job.

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