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MN: Arc Flash Injures 4 Utility Workers

Shakopee, MN:  Four Shakopee Public Utilities workers were injured while performing routine maintenance work near the Shakopee women’s prison at approximately 8:30 a.m. Monday. Two of the workers received care at nearby St. Francis Regional Medical Center in Shakopee, two others were transported to Hennepin County Medical Center.  A spokesperson for Shakopee Public Utilities said that one worker had already been released from St. Francis, and said a second injured worker would likely be released from that hospital Monday afternoon.  Renee Schmid, Director of Finance and Administration for Shakopee Public Utilities, said that the two employees who were expected to remain at HCMC overnight were both sitting upright and communicating.

The accident occurred at the corner of Adams Street and Sixth Avenue and coincided with a power outage in downtown Shakopee that lasted approximately one hour and left both the prison and numerous downtown businesses without power. It remains unclear if the two incidents are related.  KMSP-TV News reported that a nearby neighbor saw one of the utility workers shocked while working on a power line from a “cherry-picker” bucket near the intersection.  “We heard a boom and his skin was smoking,” the neighbor told a reporter from the station.

According to the report, the city said the worker hadn’t technically been shocked but had rather been the victim of an “arc flash,” in which powerful electric currents travel through the air. Witnesses at the scene reported that at least one worker had visible burns to much of his back and other parts of his body.

Shakopee Public Utilities is currently conducting an internal investigation into the electrical accident and power outage but could not say when details from that investigation would become publicly available. The company will be cooperating with other agencies, including the Occupational Health and Safety Administration, as is required by law.  Schmid said that accidents such as this morning’s were very unusual for the company.  “I’ve been here almost five years and never seen one (an electrcial accident like this morning’s, so it’s very infrequent,” she said. “We spend an inordinate amount of time safety-training with our staff—it’s our number one priority.”

Stroy via shakopeepatch.com

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