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Occupational Safety and Health Administration OSHA

Accident Report Detail

Accident: 200962611 - Burn - Electrical Fault In Switchgear

Accident: 200962611 -- Report ID: 0352430 -- Event Date: 09/02/1998
InspectionOpen DateSICEstablishment Name
30246333609/02/19983312Bethlehem Steel Corporation
Crews from two different parts of a steel plant were working to restore power inside a facility that had been deenergized for a few months. One four-person electrical crew was assigned to verify the phase rotation at an existing 480-volt unit substation that had to be reenergized. The crew was unfamiliar with that area of the plant and unfamiliar with this type of electrical apparatus. In addition, the area was poorly illuminated. The cabinet door at the 6900-volt incoming section to the substation was open and marked "480 Volt Unit Substation." (There were no markings on the 6900-volt section indicating that it housed circuit parts operating at that voltage. The 480-volt switchgear where the work should have been performed was in the corner of the room.) The substation comprised an incoming 6900-volt component, a 6900/480-volt, three-phase transformer, and a section of 480-volt switchgear. The crew had not been instructed on which component the verification of phase rotation was to be performed. Because the area was poorly illuminated and because the 6900-volt compartment was marked as being a 480-volt unit, they began checking the phase rotation in the opened 6900-volt component and blew a protective fuse on their handheld phase-rotation meter. They alerted their supervisor to the problem with the meter. The supervisor instructed them to stop work until he arrived, which was to be in about 10 minutes. Two employees from the crew left to repair or replace the phase-rotation meter. Employees from another electrical crew were performing some unrelated testing in the area at that time. These employees volunteered to check the phasing. They were told by two of the employees from the first crew that no further work was to be performed until their supervisor arrived. However, the employees from the second crew started to check the phasing. As one of them applied the leads from their 600-volt class handheld Fluke digital multimeter to the stabs in the 6900-volt compartment, an electrical fault occurred. The ensuing electric arc burned six of the eight employees in the room. They were all taken to a burn center, where they were hospitalized. Five of the employees sustained third-degree burns over 18 to 85 percent of their bodies.
Keywords: burn, clothing, e gi ii, electric arc, electrical, electrician, electrical work, electrical fault, switchgear, poor visibility
Employee # Inspection Age Sex Degree Nature Occupation
1 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.
2 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.
3 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.
4 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.
5 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.
6 302463336 Hospitalized injury Burn/Scald(Heat) Electronic repairers, communica. & indus. equip.

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