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NJ: Arc Flash Injures 2 at Meat Processing Plant

December 21, 2012 Leave a comment

West Caldwell, NJ: An explosion rocked Al & John Inc. and injured two contractors on the morning of Sat., Dec 8.

Francois MacFarlane, of Brooklyn, N.Y., and Jason Defaoite, of Oak Ridge, N.J. were working on an electrical panel in the Al & John Inc. meat processing plant when the panel exploded due to an electrical arc flash.

The West Caldwell Fire and Police Departments, as well as the Fairfield police and Caldwell fire department, responded to the scene and the building was evacuated. The fire department was initially unable to put out the blaze from the explosion since the panel was still electrically charged, according to West Caldwell Fire Chief James Alvine.

The electricity in part of the building was shut down, allowing the firefighters to clear the building and have the power back by approximately 11:30 a.m.. The West Essex First Aid Squad transported the two contractors to Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston.

Story via newjerseyhills.com

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NJ: Sparta Train Station Destroyed in Electrical Fire

September 12, 2012 Leave a comment

Sparta, NJ: The electrical fire that destroyed the historic, 130-year-old Sparta Train Station has been determined to be “not suspicious.”  Investigators have determined that an electrical panel box located on the outside of the building was a contributing factor, according to Sparta Police Sgt. John-Paul Beebe.

The joint investigation is being conducted by Sparta police Detective Sgt. John Schanstra and Detective Jason Garrigan of the Sussex County Prosecutor’s Office Arson Unit.  The fire was reported at 3:49 a.m. on Sept. 3 by a motorist who saw the flames while traveling north on Route 15, police said. Sparta police were at the station within three minutes of the call, but by then the building was already engulfed in flames.

Firefighters from the Sparta and Ogdensburg fire departments battled the blaze for approximately an hour and a half before finally clearing from the scene at 7:20 a.m., police said.  Built by the New York, Susquehanna and Western Railway in 1882, the Sparta station served numerous dairy farms and Sparta’s Ideal Creamery Co. Sparta’s mail was delivered by train to the station, as was everything from coal and ice to cement, according to Beebe.

The station was the last of the 15 stations that were built by the railway in Sussex County. Its water tank, which was not affected by the fire, is the only one left in the county and one of the few left in the state, Beebe said.

The area in which the train station was located has been going through a rebirth after years of neglect, according to Beebe, who said the adjacent property was part of the A.O. Polymer Superfund site that was sold by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to Station Holdings on Feb. 19, 2009. This property now houses the new Sparta Police Athletic League building, Beebe said.

The train station, which also is owned by Station Holdings, was currently being renovated and had just gotten a new roof, and other repairs were under way, Beebe said.

Story via DailyRecord.com

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NJ: $124K in OSHA Electrical Safety Fines

July 10, 2012 1 comment

Norwood, NJ:  The employees of a cleaning-products company face “serious” hazards, OSHA says.

Earth Friendly Products, which makes plant-based cleaning products, faces a $124,000 fine for 23 alleged safety and health violations at its Norwood facility, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration said on Thursday.

In response to a complaint, OSHA inspected the operation from Dec. 28 to May 31 and found workers were exposed to hazards like insufficient machine guarding, flammable liquids and deficient personal protective equipment(PPE), among other violations, the federal agency said.

“The large number and extensive range of safety and health hazards found at this establishment are of great concern to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration,” Lisa Levy, OSHA’s area director in Hasbrouck Heights, said in a statement. “This employer needs to address the hazards to prevent injuries from occurring at its facility.”

The company, based in Addison, Ill., makes “environmentally friendly” cleaning products. It employs 38 people at 380 Chestnut St. in Norwood.

The alleged “serious” violations at the Norwood plant include safety hazards related to confined-space entry, which means having workers in an enclosed area not meant for human occupancy, with limited access and only one way in or out, according to OSHA.

Other alleged violations include: deficient “lockout/tagout” procedures to prevent machinery from accidentally starting up; failing to train powered industrial truck operators and make sure that truck modifications are performed with the manufacturer’s prior written approval, and insufficient machine-guarding equipment.

Also on the list of alleged violations are: junction boxes connected with flexible cords instead of being mounted on the wall; unlabeled breakers on the electrcial panel; unsafe flammable liquid storage and handling; personal protective equipment and respirator deficiencies; a lack of eye-wash stations, and a deficiency in fire extinguisher training and hazard communications.

Earth Friendly Products has 15 business days from receiving the citations and penalties to either comply, request an informal conference with OSHA’s area director, or contest the citations and proposed penalties before OSHA’s independent review commission.

The company’s chief executive and owner, Van Vlahakis, said his lawyer, Amber Enriquez, will be meeting with OSHA officials next week. Enriquez said she couldn’t discuss the case in any detail, but added, “We are working with them to reduce the fine.”

Vlahakis said the company was once cited by OSHA at another one of its facilities for a minor infraction.

OSHA considers a violation “serious” 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,” according to the agency.

Story via North Jersey.com

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Faulty Electrical Outlet Burns Down Home in NJ

December 7, 2011 Leave a comment

NJ – Thanksgiving Day fire at a home on Institute Street in Freehold Borough has been ruled accidental and electrical in nature by Monmouth County Fire Marshal Hank Stryker III.

Stryker said the cause of the fire appeared to be an electrical outlet on the side of the exterior porch of the home.

The home was deemed uninhabitable following the afternoon blaze. No residents, firefighters or other emergency personnel were injured at the scene.

Stryker said the family that lives in the house— a mother, father and three children — had been evacuated by the time firefighters arrived at the scene at 1 p.m.

The Thanksgiving holiday turned out not to be a day off for the firefighters who answered the call for help, but when Freehold Fire Chief Ryan Bailey was asked how firefighters react to having to leave their family on a holiday, he said, “It’s what we do.”

“We’re used to it,” he said. “It doesn’t matter if it is 1 p.m. on Thanksgiving or 3 a.m. on aMonday, or any other time, it’s all the same to us. You never know when that call is coming in.”

The chief said that for firefighters who have been doing this for a long time, it has become a part of their lives. Bailey said someone who is considering joining the fire department has to think about things like being called away from one’s family on a holiday.

“When you join up, you really have to ask yourself if you are an unselfish person,” he said.

All four companies from the Freehold Fire Department responded to the fire. Responders also came from the East Freehold Fire Company of Freehold Township, the Freehold Township Independent Fire Co. No. 1 and the Adelphia Fire Company of Howell.

Bailey said the fire was under control within 45 minutes. He said thick black smoke rising into the sky from the home on fire was visible for miles and came from the home’s vinyl siding burning.

“Vinyl siding is petroleum based and that is what causes the black smoke,” he said.

Story via News Transcript

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NJ State Agency Orders Utilities to Assess Contact Voltage Threats

December 7, 2010 Leave a comment

NJ – In New York City a few years ago, a woman walking along the streets stepped onto a manhole cover and was electrocuted. In Baltimore, the 14-year-old daughter of a former NFL football player died after she touched an electrified fence at a softball game. Probably, neither had ever heard of the phenomenon known as contact voltage.

The state is ordering its four electric utilities to determine whether contact voltage, or faults in a power system that can prove hazardous to humans and pets, is a problem that needs to be dealt with in New Jersey.

The Board of Public Utilities (BPU) yesterday directed the companies to assess the extent of the problem and to recommend if there should be better reporting of cases involving electric shock with energized objects.

Some commissioners called the assessment long overdue, given the risks associated with the issue.

“It’s a sad state of affairs when we have to order utilities to look at safety issues in their own infrastructure,” said BPU Commissioner Nicholas Asselta, at a bimonthly meeting of the state agency in its Trenton offices. “I hope this is a wake-up call for the utilities.”

The agency has been examining the problem since it first began holding stakeholder hearings with the utilities and other interested parties this past August. At the time, the utilities said the state’s current rules are adequate to deal with any potential problems, which they argued were minimal at most.

More Than 400 Threats Detected

That view was countered by Power Survey Company, a Kearny-based company that provides detection services to help root out contact voltage problems. It conducted a survey of 33 urban municipalities, mostly in northern New Jersey, and detected 408 energized objects, according to a presentation it made to the agency in August.

Contact voltage is mostly a problem in urban areas where underground wires are buried and the infrastructure is aging, with a lot of foot traffic creating potential situations where contact with energized objects, such as manhole covers, streetlights and parking meters, is more common. In addition to aging, objects can become energized because of accidents and faulty workmanship.

New Jersey’s largest utility, Public Service Electric & Gas (PSE&G), said it will furnish the agency with further information regarding its limited experiences with contact voltage, according to Bonnie Sheppard, spokeswoman. The utility recently surveyed all of its streetlight poles and randomly sampled its manholes for contact voltage. It does spot inspections of its equipment every year.

An Underground Issue

“We have never had a reportable incident involving contact voltage causing injury to members of the public, employees or contractors,” Sheppard said. “Moreover, contact voltage concerns electric utility underground infrastructure and, unlike New York City, most of New Jersey’s electric utility distribution infrastructure, including PSE&G’s, is overhead.”

Ron Morano, a spokesman for Jersey Central Power & Light Co., the state’s second-largest utility, with more than 1 million customers, said the utility has not yet seen the written order, but added, “We understand it applies mainly to underground networks in urban areas. We have limited exposure to those situations.”

BPU President Lee Solomon noted the agency does not yet know the extent of problems with contact voltage, but Asselta said it has been a big problem in New York. Commissioner Jeanne Fox urged the agency’s staff to find out how the neighboring state has dealt with the problem.

According to Power Survey, contact voltage test programs and reporting requirements do exist in other states. After the death in New York City, the New York Public Service Commission mandated that all NY cities with populations in excess of 50,000 be scanned for contact voltage via mobile detection, because it was shown that mobile detection is more effective and less costly than any other means of detection.

Story via njspotlight.com