A moving video posted on YouTube by friends of Eddie Adams describes how the Elkin, North Carolina electrician lost his life in an arc flash incident – and how his loss impacted his family, friends and co-workers.
Adams died from the explosion of a 2300 volt starter. According to the video, he left behind a wife, two children and countless friends, some of whom produced the video in order to help prevent future arc flash tragedies.
From the video:
“This particular night, things were pretty normal. It’s just that a person didn’t stay focused.”
“It was the worst thing I’ve ever seen in my life.”
“I’ve got an image burned into my mind that’ll probably be there forever.”
LOTO procedures ignored all the time
In the comments section following the video are stories from electricians who’ve have brushes with arc flash danger. One commenter, who’s worked with electricity for more than four decades, said he’d once had a 3200 amp 480V Service blow up when his partner closed the Main: “We tested the system thoroughly, followed all the procedures, but something still went wrong. He was burned bad, and in the hospital for five months. I was 12 feet away and got burned under my left arm and side, and have circular burn scars on my right forearm and the inside of my right bicep. I was the lucky one.”
The commenter also notes that, although his current employer has strict LOTO procedures in place, he sees them ignored all the time.
A "macho" thought process
“I sometimes act as Safety on the bigger jobs and have become very disliked, especially by the 'journeymen' who think I am power hungry because I demand they follow the rules. They all 'know what they are doing.' I think that there is a 'macho' thought process in a lot of cases where someone gets hurt or worse. Then there is the simple fact that the majority of 'Electricians' out there are nothing more than Pipers who can pull wire. 'Journeyman Electrician' is supposed to mean you are experienced enough to do any work you are required to do, professionally and safely. Most of the ones I know can run conduit, pull wire or make up a J-box, but don't have a clue about what a neutral is or does.”
Other commenters expressed their frustration in Adams apparent lack of training.
“Didn't anyone warn him not to use a 600-volt meter on 2,300-volt equipment, let alone wear arc-flash protection or lock out, tag out?” ?
“Didn't anybody teach him to stop, drop, and roll??
Click here to view the video in a larger size on YouTube and read the comments that accompany it.