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Arc Flash Injures Electrical Worker in St. Kitts

January 13, 2011 Leave a comment

BASSETERRE, St. Kitts – THE man who was injured yesterday evening (Jan. 11) while working on the building that houses the Polo Company at the junction of Fort and Central Streets, was this morning discharged from the JNF Hospital.

Speaking with SKNVibes, Wenworth Richardson of Taylors Range said while on his way to make a purchase at City Drug Store, the Manager of Polo Company asked for his assistance in the rectification of a problem. 

“I was walking along Fort Street when the Manager of the Polo Company stopped me and asked if I work at the Electricity Department. I said yes and then he asked if I can help in stopping the cable wire on his building from sparking. I told him that I can but would have to return to my car to get my tools and will do so after I would have completed making a purchase at City Drug Store. I then returned and took my equipment from the back of my car and proceeded up the ladder. I was just examining the cable wire when I heard a loud blast. I had my glasses at the time on my head and the sound caused it to fall over my eyes. I immediately bent my head after the blast, as my experience taught me that my first priority was to protect my eyes,” Richardson said.
The Electricity Department Supervisor and second in charge of the Transmission and Distribution Section, added that he felt a burning sensation in his eyes and on his face and decided to get off the ladder.

He said that on reaching the sidewalk he could not see properly and someone helped him into his car and took him to the hospital.

Asked why he had decided to assist the manager when he knew the problem was not a fault of the Electricity Department, Richardson said, “I could not just continue on my way when someone reported a matter and I could have dealt with it. So I stopped to help and while I got a few burns I believed that I did the right thing.”

Superintendent of Transmission and Distribution, Nubian Greaux said that the injured Richardson has been employed at the Electricity Department for some 18 years. He pointed out that because of Richardson’s experience and versatility, he has been moved around to various sections in the department.

Greaux said Richardson had suffered an “arc flash, which he explained is produced by short circuit current that is generally used in welding.  According to the National Electrical Code Internet Connection, “Arc Flash is the result of a rapid release of energy due to an arcing fault between a phase bus bar and another phase bus bar, neutral or a ground.”

The Superintendent stated that a lot of misinformation was being circulated that Richardson was at fault. He however declared that an investigation revealed Richardson had followed the correct procedures.

“He did nothing wrong and he was well protected. He had on all the required gear including for his eyes and hands. The arc flash is a fire that burns easily, and it is important to note that Mr. Richardson did not suffer any shocks but was burnt by the fire from the arc flash.”

He also stated that arc flashes are generally not fatal but they have the capacity to cause one to die.

“We have never had any fatality from the arc flash here in St. Kitts and Nevis but I know that in other countries there have been fatalities,” he said.

Greaux claimed that he was not surprised by the incident because arc flashes are frequent and they are the primary cause of electrical fires.

“Arc flashes are what result in many electrical fires. However, because of the location and the fact that there was significant paint and concrete, it resulted in a fire not being ignited. If it was left for an extended period with old papers and wood in closed places, it could lead to an electrical fire,” he said.

Greaux said when he visited Richardson at the hospital sometime after 8.30 last night he was well but in some amount of discomfiture. “His face at around 8.30 p.m. was still very hot. The only injury he sustained were some burns on his left arm and this was because he was holding the pliers with that hand when he had the arc flash. But he is okay and should be released sometime today from the hospital,” he said.

He added that the misinformation circulated by members of the public created undue alarm, noting that “there were so many different accounts of what really happened”.

Greaux said Richardson should not be blamed for the mishap because “the situation resulted because the Cable installation wires were not good enough and this created the problem”.

Bloggers Note:  Electrical Arc Flash accidents happen every day in the US and unlike the statements made in the article, they are something to be very concerned about.  Proper protective equipment on the electricians face would have limited the amount of burns he endured. 

Martin Technical Electrical Safety Service

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Cleveland State U Found Not Liable for Electrical Death

November 19, 2010 Leave a comment

CLEVELAND, Ohio — Cleveland State University is not liable for the death of biology professor Tarun Mal, who was electrocuted in 2005 when he used a nongrounded electrical device that adapts a three-pronged plug for a two-pronged device to plug in a homemade grow lamp, the Ohio Court of Claims ruled this week (pdf).

 The university, however, now requires all employees to undergo electrical safety training. It also has installed ground fault circuit interrupters, which detect fluctuations in current and breaks the circuit to prevent electrocution, in electrical outlets in laboratories.

“It was obviously a tragic incident,” said CSU spokesman Joe Mosbrook.

Mal, 42, was in a biology lab in the Science Research Building at CSU on Aug. 16, 2005 with two students when they decided to use a three-tiered metal rack with two fluorescent lights on the top tier to conduct an experiment, according to court documents. The three-pronged light plug was attached to an adapter called a “cheater plug,” which was then plugged into a two-prong electrical timer.

Mal held on to the metal rack and knelt down to plug the timer into a three-prong wall outlet when the grow lamp emitted a surge of electricity of nearly 400 volts. The associate professor was electrocuted.

It was later discovered that one of the fluorescent lights had a defective “ballast,” a small transformer used to regulate voltage.

Mal’s wife, Sanchita Mal-Sarkar, an instructor in computer and informational science at CSU, and their daughter sued the university. A trial was held in fall 2007.

Mal-Sarkar’s lawyers contended that CSU did not conduct routine inspections of electrical equipment and wiring in the laboratories and did not provide electrical safety training to employees. They also alleged the use of cheater plugs and the lack of ground fault circuit interrupters contributed to unsafe conditions in the laboratory because water is nearby.

According to testimony, the National Electric Code prohibits cheater plugs and requires circuit interrupters in bathrooms and kitchens, because water is nearby, but not in areas such as laboratories.

CSU lawyers said the university did not authorize the acquisition or use of the light rack assembly and did not require Mal to use that system to conduct his research.

In his decision, issued Wednesday, Judge Joseph Clark wrote that while he was convinced CSU may have violated certain Occupational Safety and Health Administration and Public Employees Risk Reduction Program regulations by not providing electrical safety training or inspecting its 200 laboratories, such violations did not rise to the level of an intent to injure an employee.

Even if CSU provided training and conducted inspections there was no way to determine if that would have prevented Mal’s death from the use of unauthorized equipment, he wrote.

CSU’s Employee Health and Safety Manual, adopted in January, 2006, has an extensive section on electrical safety. It prohibits cheater plugs and requires approval before any non-commercial electrical equipment is used in laboratories. And if water is used within six feet of an electrical outlet a circuit interrupter will be installed.

Story via blog.cleveland.com