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OSHA Hazard Information Bulletins
Misuse of Digital Multimeters


May 24, 1988

MEMORANDUM FOR:

REGIONAL ADMINISTRATORS

THRU:

  • LEO CAREY
  • Director
  • Office of Field Programs

FROM:

  • EDWARD J. BAIER
  • Director
  • Directorate of Technical Support

SUBJECT:

  • Safety Hazard Information Bulletin on the Misuse of Digital Multimeters

The accident described in the attached April 1988 U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Serious Accidents report occurred in 1987. An electrician died from third degree burns over 90% of his body received from a superheated fireball surrounding an electrical arc-flash.

The primary cause of the accident was the electrician's misuse of a multimeter rated at 700 volts to test a fuse on a 2400 volt motor starter. This was attributed to inadequate training. The electrician's most recent experience prior to the tragedy was limited to 480 volt systems and he was working alone at the time.

The November 30, 1987, OSHA Proposed Rule on Electrical Safety-Related Work Practices (copy attached) provides general guidelines on training and proper use of equipment. This standard is not final and cannot be used for enforcement purpose. A good reference on electrical safety work practice is Part II of National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) Code 70E.

Please disseminate this bulletin to all Area Offices, State Plan States and Consultation Project Officers.

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