Two Men. Two Explosions. Same Day.

The story is horrific. Two men burned at the same facility, on the same day, but in two separate arc flash explosions.

The first incident happened when a journeyman electrician and his assistant were installing a new three-phase run of wire between an existing energized 480 volt circuit breaker panel and new machinery. The electrician was wearing insulating gloves, but he did not have on safety glasses, a shield, or any other safety equipment.

Unfortunately, he dropped a bolt. The bolt, and maybe the mount too, hit another phase in the circuit breaker panel, causing an arc flash. The electrician suffered first and second degree burns to his face, head, and arm, and he was temporarily blinded.

The second arc blast happened just minutes later. The electrician’s assistant was showing the facility manager what had happened during the first arc flash, when the breaker panel exploded a second time.

The assistant, who had no formal electrical safety training, was not wearing any protective gear, not even gloves. The flash literally melted his nylon jacket into his skin.

While both men needed hospitalization, the assistant’s injuries were more severe than the electricians.

Electrical safety training and proper PPE would have made a different in this story. The facility owners and management learned too late what can happen when proper precautions and proper education fail to happen.

http://www.lni.wa.gov/Safety/Research/files/DoubleArcFlash.pdf