The Things That MUST STOP

  • Post comments:1 Comment
The Things That MUST STOP

Serious Injuries

Let me preface this blog by making this point as simply as possible: there is NOTHING we do in the electrical industry worth suffering like this.

At e-Hazard, we have dealt with incidents like these, as well as the subsequent investigations. In every case, these types of injuries or deaths could have been avoided.

We simply must STOP for a few minutes to consider our actions and ask the magic questions, “Does what I am about to do make sense? Is there undue risk involved? If so, WHY am I about to push forward?”

At this point, we simply must STOP the behavior and reassess our scenario, reducing the risk(s) to an acceptable level. There is just no other safe and correct choice.

In the last month, two serious electrical injury reports have caught my eye.

In the first article, we read of a serious event and subsequent OSHA investigation that led to a huge fine, a “willful” violation, and subsequent required actions to hopefully prevent further occurrences.

This type of penalty puts a company right where no one wishes to be – in the eyes of the local community and on OSHA’s undesired list. More importantly, however, are the costs to the injured, or too often, killed, employees and their families and friends.

In this case, an employee went to work that morning, most likely with no concept or plan of being rushed to a burn unit. The event occurred in September of 2023, and the worker was twenty-two years old at the time.

The citation includes the following facts: the worker was working in an energized electrical cabinet, exposed to both shock and arc flash hazards. The worker was not properly trained in working on or near these hazards, and – perhaps most serious of all – was allowed to work energized in a panel with these serious hazards with no provided electrical PPE.

Cases like this anger me. Had the employer provided, and had the employee used, the correct PPE, any injuries at all would have been minor and most likely would amount to nothing at all. Of course, to work in this fashion, one must be properly trained, and the reason for live work simply must be justified (see OSHA 1910.333(A)(1)).

Similar language for justified energized work can be found in NFPA 70E1, which applies to scenarios just like this one. Most likely, this task was not justified to begin with. Having an untrained worker perform these tasks underscores even more the seriousness of the OSHA allegations and fines.

The Bartholomew County REMC lineworker injured by an electrical shock at about 9 a.m. Thursday in the Shadow Creek Farms subdivision is listed in stable condition in an Indianapolis hospital’s burn unit, utility officials said. According to REMC officials, the worker is conscious and talking.

The original report also included the fact that this employee did in fact have burn injuries, and that internal injuries were possible. This would indicate most likely both a shock and arc flash event. At the time I began writing this blog, the employee was in a burn unit in Indianapolis.

With no time yet for an OSHA report, we can only speculate what happened, which is not at all appropriate. The fact is that we have another serious electrical injury that was avoidable, and for events like this to occur, some common themes are usually found in investigations.

Obviously, we cannot assume and/or apply the following themes to either of these injuries as we know nothing but what is reported.

However, I want to list common themes seen in e-Hazard investigations over the years. These include e-Hazard’s 7 Electrical Safety Habits plus a few more:  

  • Lack of training
  • Lack of proper PPE
  • No justification of energized work
  • Improper clearances from energized parts
  • Improper or lack of lockout/tagout or a clearance (high voltage work)
  • Inappropriate or lack of thorough job briefing
  • Allowing the job scope to increase without appropriate review (aka scope creep)
  • Wearing improper base-layer clothing underneath arc flash clothing
  • No voltage-rated gloves when interacting on or near live parts

I could go on, but hopefully you get the idea.

I’ll say it another way – these things are PREVENTABLE.

e-Hazard includes the 7 Electrical Safety Habits concept in our training that addresses the above issues and more. An updated video is available for purchase here.

Final Thoughts

Please, as a good reminder, do not put yourself in a situation where the outcome could include an arc flash burn or an electrical shock. There are many other hazards around electricity, but these are the two big players.

In my email signature, I simply use the following phrases, and I offer it to you today as sound electrical safety advice:



For more on e-Hazard electrical safety training and engineering services, please visit our website.

1NFPA 70®, National Electrical Code®, NEC® , 70E®, and Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace® are registered trademarks of the National Fire Protection Association, Quincy, MA.

Ken Sellars

Ken Sellars is an instructor of electrical safety, NEC, Grounding/Bonding and Arc Flash Safety courses nationwide. Read more about Ken.

This Post Has One Comment

  1. George Cole

    Very good reminders Ken. And like you said, the vast majority of electrical injuries and fatalities were 100% preventable. Unfortunately this is hindsight for many employers and employees after an accident where a someone is killed or seriously hurt. And all the close calls and near misses that were clear precursors for the inevitable were brushed off and ignored.

Leave a Reply