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CANADA: Power Pole Fires Lead to Power Outage

April 9, 2014 1 comment

CALGARY, CANADA:  Power has been restored to almost all of the 3,981 customers initially impacted by an early morning power outage.

It began around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday.

Officials say the outage was caused by a power pole that caught fire along Coach Hill Road S.W.

The fire department says they’ve responded to several calls of power poles catching fire recently, mainly in the Coach Hill area.

They say power pole fires are not uncommon in the early spring.

They happen when a buildup of dirt occurs in the insulators which are used to attach electrical wires to the power poles.  A light rain, snow or even dense fog can produce the right conditions for the insulators to start to overheat which will cause the fire.

Impacted communities included West Springs, Patterson Heights, Cougar Ridge, Coach Hill and Bowness.

Story Via: globalnews.ca

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Florida Nonprofit facing $228K fine

January 24, 2014 Leave a comment

Pensacola, FL: OSHA is proposing $228,600 in fines for Teen Challenge of Florida Inc., a nonprofit rehabilitation program, after the agency said it found 25 safety and health violations at the organization’s facilities in Pensacola, Fla.

The Pensacola Teen Challenge Men’s Center says its mission is to help men 18 and older “who are struggling with drug addiction, alcoholism and other life-controlling issues.” The organization, which is part of Teen Challenge International, runs a screen-printing operation, a detail shop, a wood shop and two thrift stores, according to a report on the website of WEAR ABC 3 in northwest Florida.

OSHA said it initiated the July 2013 inspection after receiving a complaint alleging safety and health hazards.

“This employer willfully disregarded worker safety by exposing workers to amputation hazards,” said Brian Sturtecky, OSHA’s area director in Jacksonville, Fla. “The hazards found during our inspection must be eliminated from this workplace immediately.”

Three willful violations, with $162,000 in penalties, allegedly involve Teen Challenge exposing workers to amputation hazards by not providing machine guarding on the hand-fed ripsaws, the cutting heads of the routers and the abrasive wheels on the grinding wheel, according to OSHA.

Eighteen serious safety and health violations, with $66,600 in penalties, include allegedly failing to:

  •                               Provide workers first aid training in case of an emergency.
  •                               Provide a suitable eyewash facility.
  •                               Close unused openings in boxes, raceways, cabinets and equipment cases.
  •                               Have uniform step heights on a standard stairway and keep exit routes unobstructed.

The employer also exposed workers to numerous instances where the machines had no guarding, several electrical deficiencies were present and various tripping hazards were observed, according to OSHA.

OSHA cited Teen Challenge for four other-than-serious violations, stemming from the organization’s alleged failure to: illuminate exit signs; certify forklift operators as competent to operate powered industrial trucks safely; establish a respiratory protection program; and have forklift nameplates and markings in place and in legible condition. No monetary penalties were assigned for the other-than-serious violations.

Teen Challenge has 15 business days from receipt of the citations and proposed penalties to comply or contest OSHA’s findings.

Story Via: EHStoday.com

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DC: Boeing Dreamliner Electrical Fire Problems

January 23, 2013 Leave a comment

WASHINGTON, DC:  While Boeing maintains that an electrical fire in an electronics compartment of Boeing’s 787 Dreamliner last week and another electrical fire on a test flight in 2010 are not related, the plane’s fire-suppression system does not protect the site where both fires occurred.

The incidents have some aviation experts questioning assurances by company officials, the Federal Aviation Administration and Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood that the plane is safe.

The National Transportation Safety Board is investigating last week’s fire, and the FAA is reviewing the plane’s electrical system and the inspection process that led to the plane’s certification in 2011. The Dreamliner relies on its electrical components more than any similar aircraft, and much of that system is supplied by UTC Aerospace.

The Charlotte, N.C., company also furnishes the plane’s fire detection and suppression system, which uses Halon 1301 gas to extinguish fires in cargo compartments, but not the one that contains key electrical systems.

A spokesman for UTC Aerospace directed questions about the plane’s design to Boeing.

Boeing spokeswoman Lori Gunter said that fire-suppression systems are not typical in electronics compartments.

“That’s not unique to the 787,” she said. “It’s true of all Boeing airplanes.”

Though production of Halon 1301 has been banned for most uses for nearly two decades because it depletes ozone, it still is commonly used in fire-suppression systems on aircraft. Barry Chase, a fire protection engineer at the National Fire Prevention Association in Quincy, Mass., said that another common use in the past was to protect computer rooms.

“It’s not electrically conductive,” he said. “It was used that way for a very long time.”

Last week’s fire in Boston took 40 minutes to extinguish and damaged a lithium-ion battery that powers the plane’s auxiliary power unit, according to the NTSB. The plane was empty at the time, but one firefighter suffered minor injuries.

The 2010 fire occurred in mid-air and damaged one of the plane’s primary electrical-distribution panels. Backup systems allowed the crew to safely make an emergency landing in Laredo, Texas, and evacuate the 42 people on board. The problem was traced to a metal shaving that caused a short-circuit in the electrical panel, and Gunter said changes were made to the plane’s software to cut power quickly in case of a short.

Boeing grounded its test fleet after the fire, adding to delays that had plagued the program from its inception.

Lithium-ion batteries have caught fire in cellphones, laptops and electric cars. The FAA earlier pushed airlines to take special precautions with bulk shipments of such batteries in cargo holds.

Mary Schiavo, a former inspector general at the Department of Transportation, said the FAA might have overlooked the presence of the battery in the electronics compartment when it certified the aircraft.

“Without the fire suppression, and the use of the lithium battery, I imagine that this is one of the areas the FAA will look at,” she said. “They should have done it before.”

Schiavo was at the Transportation Department during the certification process for another large Boeing jet, the 777. She said that the company’s inspectors, rather than the FAA’s, performed about 95 percent of the certification of the plane.

“That’s how it works throughout the industry,” she said. “People are surprised, but that’s how it works.”

Going on the experience of the 777, Schiavo said that any design or manufacturing errors will appear in the first 18 months to two years of the aircraft’s service. The FAA review is coming right in the middle of that period.

“They will learn an awful lot, and it will be very important to track it,” she said.

Story via www.miamiherald.com

TX: ThyssenKrupp nailed with $172k in fines – Electrical Hazards

October 22, 2012 Leave a comment

Fort Worth, TX: The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration has cited ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems Inc with 28 serious safety violations at its Fort Worth work site for exposing workers to struck by, fall, amputation and shock hazards while they were manufacturing airport passenger boarding bridges. Proposed penalties total $172,000.

The alleged violations involve failing to regularly inspect overhead cranes, hooks and slings; rate or inspect devices used for lifting; provide machine guarding for a press brake and belt sander; ensure that exits are not blocked and are properly marked; provide fall protection such as harnesses and guardrails; train workers on lockout tag out procedures for the control of energy sources; and provide strain relief for flexible electrical cords.

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.

ThyssenKrupp Airport Systems, a subsidiary of Chicago based ThyssenKrupp USA Inc, employs about 180 workers in Fort Worth. The company has 15 business days from receipt of the citations to comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director or contest the citations and proposed penalties before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

Story via steelguru.com

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WA: Copper Theives Risk Electrocution

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Spokane, WA:  Thieves in northern Idaho and eastern Washington state are still targeting copper wire for the scrap market despite lower metal prices and electrocution risks, power company officials say.  Officials tell The Spokesman-Review that thieves cause higher electricity bills for customers and endanger the public by leaving live wires. Dan Kolbet, communications manager for Avista Utilities, said thieves have cut down live lines and climbed substation fences to steal equipment that could kill them.

“In the substation, it’s scary dangerous for the folks doing it, because if they cut the wrong wire they’re dead in about that fast,” Kolbet said, snapping his fingers.

Shawn Dolan is the manager of engineering at Kootenai Electric Cooperative, based in Hayden in northern Idaho.

“They’re not getting a lot of money for the damage they’re doing,” he told The Spokesman-Review.

He said the company recently discovered copper grounding wire, worth about $200 on the scrap metal market, missing from about 60 poles in rural areas north and south of Coeur d’Alene. He said it will cost about $10,000 to replace ground wires, with ratepayers paying for the thefts.

He also said the missing grounding wire means line crews don’t have a safety guard to tie into while working on the poles. And if a storm or car crash knocks down a pole, the wires might not de-energize properly. In addition, voltage fluctuations can be caused by improperly grounded power lines that can damage home electronics.

“For 200 bucks, what they’re doing is risking our workers’ safety, their lives. They could kill a lineman,” Dolan said. “They’re also potentially damaging other people’s electrical appliances.”

“That’s what amazes us more than anything,” said Pat Osborn, supply chain supervisor at Inland Power & Light Co., a rural electric co-op serving areas outside Spokane. “You look at minimum wage in Washington, and these guys could work an eight-hour shift and make quite a bit more.”

Jim Schrock of Earthworks Recycling in Spokane said he pays about $2.75 a pound for good copper, down from $3.30 two years ago. Both Idaho and Washington state have laws intended to deter metal thieves.

“We probably kick out six to 10 people a week,” said Schrock. “We basically say don’t come back and tell all your friends not to come in, because they’re acting squirrelly or they’re on a list where they’ve been convicted of crimes, or they’re trying to skirt the metal law.”

Story via seattletimes.com

 

CA: Raider Fans Suffer Electric Burns

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

OAKLAND, Calif. — Two football fans suffered electrical burns after they raised a flag pole into a high-voltage power line at the Oakland Coliseum.

Fire officials tell the Oakland Tribune alcohol may have been a factor in Sunday morning’s accident, and that the injuries were not considered life threatening.

Fire Department Battalion Chief Darin White said the pole was at least 20 feet tall, but he wasn’t sure what sort of flag the fans were hoisting ahead of the game between the Oakland Raiders and Pittsburgh Steelers.

Pacific Gas & Electric said the transmission line was 115 kilovolt.

Story via sacbee.com

Australia: Apprentice in Hospital, Fall after Shock

October 1, 2012 Leave a comment

Canberra, Australia: A 20-year-old electrical apprentice is in hospital after falling five metres at a worksite in Canberra’s south.  The man was up a ladder conducting maintenance work on a garage roller door when he received an electric shock from a live wire on Wednesday afternoon.  He fell five metres to the ground and sustained serious head injuries.  Canberra Hospital says the man is currently stable but in a critical condition.

The man was working for a company contracted by the ACT Government to carry out maintenance on the site at the old bus depot on Dundas Street in Phillip. The site is being leased by a car detailing company.  ACT Government has shut down the work site. The accident happened just hours after the construction union staged a rally in Civic calling on the ACT Government to improve worker safety on construction sites.  Police and WorkSafe ACT are investigating. Work safety commissioner Mark McCabe says it is an extremely serious incident.  “Some people have said to me ‘will it become more serious if the condition of the worker worsens?’,” he said.

“It will from a human point of view. From our point of view it’s a serious incident already. It could very easily have led to a much worse circumstance than it is as the moment. It’s up there with the highest of incidents.” The Electrical Trades Union (ETU) is seeking more details about the accident. Mick Koppie says the union understands the apprentice was working alone. “It needs to be investigated along those lines,” he said.

“I understood he received an electric shock and then fell to the floor below him and landed on his head.”  WorkSafe says that will form part of their investigation. “What is happening there with that wiring, and why was it in that state?” Mr McCabe said. “I’m certainly concerned at the things our inspectors are finding, I think it will become a complex investigation.”

By law all apprentices must be supervised while performing live electrical work.  There have been four fatal accidents on Canberra work sites since last December.

Submissions closed yesterday for an inquiry into workplace safety set up by the ACT Government.

The apprentice was employed by a contractor for the Government.

Story via ww.abc.net,au