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Deaths Due to Equipment Not Used in Manner Prescribed

Damaged Extension Cord Leaves Arc Welder Ungrounded

A 29-year-old welder attempted to connect a portable arc welder to an electrical outlet using an extension cord. The power switch on the welder was already in the "on" position, and the female end of the extension cord, which was spring loaded, had apparently been dropped and broken. As a result, the ground prong of the welder plug did not insert into the ground terminal of the cord, so that as soon as a connection was made, the outside metal case of the welder became energized, electrocuting the victim. An examination revealed that the spring, cover plate, and part of the melamine casing were missing from the face of the female connector (the spring and some melamine fragments were found at the accident site). The victim was totally deaf in one ear and suffered diminished hearing in the other. He may have dropped the extension cord at the site and not heard the connector break.

Handling Damaged Extension Cord When Energized

A 19-year-old construction laborer was working with his foreman and another laborer to construct a waterfront bulkhead for a lakeside residence. Electricity for power tools was supplied from an exterior 120-volt, grounded AC receptacle located at the back of the residence. On the day of the incident, the victim plugged in a damaged extension cord and laid it out towards the bulkhead. There were no eyewitnesses to the accident, but evidence suggests that while the victim was handling the damaged and energized extension cord, he provided a "path to ground" and was electrocuted. The victim collapsed into the lake and sank 4-1/2 feet to the bottom.

Electrical Equipment In Poor Condition

An 18-year-old worker at a construction site was electrocuted when he touched a light fixture while descending from a scaffold for his afternoon break. The source of the electricity was apparently a short in a receptacle, but examination revealed that the electrical equipment used by the contractor was in such poor condition that it was impossible to make a certain determination of the source of the short. Extension cords had poor splices, no grounds, and reversed polarity. One hand drill was not grounded, and the other had no safety plate. Out of several possible scenarios, the most likely was contact between the exposed wires of an extension cord and a screw that protruded from the receptacle, which had its face plate removed. The light fixture, which served as a ground, was known to be faulty for at least 5 months before the incident.

Improper Modification of Plugs

An employee was texturing a wall using an air compressor. The plug of the compressor and an extension cord had been modified to fit a wall outlet for a common household clothes dryer (220 V). While attempting to unplug the compressor from the extension cord, the employee was fatally shocked. The modification of the plug was not an intended use or prescribed by the manufacturer.

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