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January 2017

Electrician Suffers Serious Burns from Arc Flash

What happened: On Monday, January 23 an arc flash event occurred while an electrician was installing a cable into an energized panel in the Ottawa, Ontario area. The electrician received second and third degree burns that required treatment in hospital. The Ministry of Labour, Fire, Police, Emergency Services and the Electrical Safety Authority attended the scene.

Preventing electrical injuries: This incident is an example of the continuation of a worrisome trend* in which electricians are injured or killed on-the-job. It’s critical that we all work together to help prevent these types of incidents from occurring. While the precise cause of the incident is under investigation, this incident is a reminder of the devastating consequences of coming into contact with live voltage. Ensuring electrical work is done in a de-energized state is the single most effective way to prevent electrical-related injuries and fatalities.

Safety in the workplace is a shared responsibility among employers and workers. Employers and employees are reminded that both have multiple responsibilities to ensure that safety in the workplace is achieved and maintained. When these responsibilities are neglected, both employees and employers are put at risk.

For more information, visit:

Electrical Safety Authority – Worker Safety: www.esasafe.com/workersafety/arcflash

Ministry of Labour – Electrical Hazards: https://www.labour.gov.on.ca/english/hs/sawo/pubs/fs_electrical.php

*Between 2006 and 2015, 40 workers died and another 127 workers were critically injured from electrical contact (2015 Ontario Electrical Safety Report). Repair and maintenance work continue to be the most common type of activity associated with electrical-related fatalities and injuries on-the-job.


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I lead an accident investigation a few years ago with an incident (a literal wrench drop in live switchgear) that had some severe negative consequences but fortunately did not result in any injury. One of the key causes for the accident was simple complacency, and I see that same complacency on every project. If doesn't matter how experienced you are or how many times you've done a risky task successfully, the risk is still there. Be safe guys, mind the arc flash calcs, and wear your PPE!


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