Georgia arc flash accident generates $110K+ in OSHA fines
Georgia Power faces $112,000 in proposed fines from OSHA after an arc flash severely burned an electrician at its Bowen plant in the fall of 2015. OSHA’s investigation of the Bowen generating facility resulted in two repeated, five serious, and two other-than-serious safety citations.
The arc flash occurred when a 48-year-old electrician was working on an electrical cabinet that was still powered. The electrician, an employee of Zurich-based technology company ABB Inc., suffered second and third-degree burns to his hands, arms and torso.
An arc flash is an electrical explosion due to a fault condition or short circuit when either a phase to ground or phase to phase conductor is connected and current flows through the air. Arc flashes cause electrical equipment to explode, resulting in injury or death to workers and destruction of electrical equipment.
Georgia Power received two repeat citations for failing to ensure the electrical cabinet was not powered down before allowing work to begin and not developing specific steps to power down machinery and prevent start up during maintenance and servicing (known as lockout/tagout). Georgia Power was cited for these same lockout violations at the Bowen facility in 2014.
The company was also cited for serious violations such as failing to ensure proper grounding of electrical equipment, inform other employers of their electrical lockout program and provide adequate procedures for electrical energy isolation.
In addition, the injured electrician’s employer, ABB, was issued two serious citations for its failure to coordinate with other employers on the specific requirements of removing power from equipment before maintenance and servicing and for exposing workers to electrical hazards. ABB Inc. faces $10,780 of proposed OSHA fines.