Category: Arc Flash Archives

Electrical incident at Stanford University in December 2022

Electrical Mishap at High-Tech Stanford Lab Disfigures Worker, Launches Federal Probe

A high-tech physics lab at Stanford University has been partially closed since federal officials began probing an accident there in late December that left one worker disfigured and hospitalized.

The electrical explosion on December 27th happened at the SLAC National Accelerator Lab, which is run under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Energy but is managed and operated by Stanford University. The lab sits on hundreds of acres near campus and employs 1,600 workers specializing in sciences including chemistry, biology and astrophysics.

Other accidents and workplace-safety concerns preceded the lab-wide shut down, a review of internal memos and public records obtained by The Standard found. The December incident recalls another notorious electrical accident in 2004 that led to an electrician suffering serious burns and Department of Energy (DOE) investigators accusing SLAC of routinely overlooking safety violations to keep its particle accelerator operational so it could compete with other labs.

This winter’s accident happened as the lab was trying to meet a requirement from the DOE to upgrade an X-ray laser called the Linac Coherent Light Source. Stanford was awarded the $3 billion, five-year contract for operating the project, which is billed as a “world-class discovery machine,” in October.

The investigation into the incident is ongoing and DOE said its findings will be made public.

“After an initial, lab-wide pause, some electrical activities at SLAC remain on hold as the lab continues to gather facts about the incident, which DOE is investigating independent of the lab,” department spokesperson Chad Smith said.

The hospitalized electrician, who has not been identified, was struck by a high-voltage electric arc while working as part of a crew shutting down power to the lab, according to a report issued by the DOE’s Occurrence Reporting and Processing System.

Coworkers heard the electrical arc, rushed to the scene and called 911 and the lab’s emergency response team.

A DOE notice appears to place some of the blame for the accident on the electrician, saying they were working on the wrong part of the circuit. “In addition, the injured worker was not wearing the required shock hazard and arc flash hazard [personal protective equipment] at the time of the incident,” the department wrote in the notice.

The worker’s injury caused the lab to stop all high-voltage work and shut down power to seven buildings for the investigation to proceed, Lab Director Chi-Chang Kao told staff in a letter.

“News of this incident is unsettling and many of you may have questions, but I ask that we all please respect the injured employee’s privacy at this time,” Kao wrote. “Our thoughts are with the employee, their family and colleagues, with wishes for a fast and full recovery.”

But there had been several earlier incidents reported.

Two complaints were filed in April with Cal/OSHA, the state agency overseeing workplace health and safety and closed a month later. 

The California Department of Industrial Relations, which enforces the state’s health and safety rules through Cal/OSHA, could not provide detailed information about the complaints because they are confidential.


Click here for the full article directly from the San Francisco Standard

Multiple workers suffer electrical burns after Arc Flash incident in Honolulu

HONOLULU (KITV4) – Three workers with Hawaiian Electric (HECO) suffered electrical burn injuries following an incident in the area of Pensacola Street and Kamaile Street, Tuesday morning.

According to a HECO spokesperson, the men were working on an underground power line when an “arc flash” occurred, injuring the workers.

An arc flash is a phenomenon where a flashover of electric current leaves its intended path and travels through the air from one conductor to another, according to the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“An arc flash, is similar to like, lightning, as far as the intensity of what happens,” licensed electrician Steve Ricci explained.

“It will create a super heated situation that atomizes the copper, or the conductor, whatever the material is made out of, and that actually is an explosion.”

Honolulu Emergency Medical Services (EMS) reported that the men suffered second and third-degree burns in the incident. HECO tells KITV4 two of the men were taken from the scene to Straub Medical Center to be treated for serious but non-life-threatening injuries. The third victim, according to HECO, was treated at the scene and did not need to be taken to the hospital.

The cause of the arc flash has not yet been determined.

The victims have not been identified by name, but EMS did say the victims were all men – ages 34, 36, and 56.

Honolulu Police officers shut down (HPD) Kamaile Street, between Pensacola Street and Piikoi Street, as the incident was investigated.

HECO sent KITV-4 the following statement:

“Hawaiian Electric is investigating the cause of an arc flash that injured three of our workers on a job site today. Fortunately, none of the employees suffered life-threatening injuries and we wish them a speedy and complete recovery. We spend a considerable amount time and effort at Hawaiian Electric to ensure the safety of our workers and the community and we will look closely at what caused this incident to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

According to HECO, all three of the injured employees have been released from the hospital.

Video of an arc flash in our newscasts were provided courtesy of Electrical Power & Safety Company.


Click here for the article directly from KITV 4


Arc Flash Events at Amazon Warehouses – Solar Panels had to be taken Offline

Arc Flash Events at Amazon Warehouses – Solar Panels had to be taken Offline

On the afternoon of April 14, 2020, dozens of firefighters arrived at an Amazon warehouse in Fresno, California, as thick plumes of smoke poured from the roof of the 880,000-square-foot warehouse.

Some 220 solar panels and other equipment at the facility, known as FAT1, were damaged by the three-alarm fire, which was caused by “an undetermined electrical event within the solar system mounted on top of the roof,” Leland Wilding, Fresno’s fire investigator, wrote in an incident report.

A little over a year later, about 60 firefighters were called to an even larger Amazon facility in Perryville, Maryland, to put out a two-alarm blaze, local news outlets reported

In the intervening months, at least four other Amazon fulfillment centers caught fire or experienced electrical explosions due to failures with their solar energy-generating systems, according to internal company documents viewed by CNBC.

The documents, which have never been made public, indicate that between April 2020 and June 2021, Amazon experienced “critical fire or arc flash events” in at least six of its 47 North American sites with solar installations, affecting 12.7% of such facilities. Arc flashes are a kind of electrical explosion.

“The rate of dangerous incidents is unacceptable, and above industry averages,” an Amazon employee wrote in one of the internal reports.

By June of last year, all of Amazon’s U.S. operations with solar had to be taken offline temporarily, internal documents show. The company had to ensure its systems were designed, installed and maintained properly before “re-energizing” any of them.

Amazon spokesperson Erika Howard told CNBC in a statement that the incidents involved systems run by partners, and that the company responded by voluntarily turning off its solar-powered roofs.

“Out of an abundance of caution, following a small number of isolated incidents with onsite solar systems owned and operated by third parties, Amazon proactively powered off our onsite solar installations in North America, and took immediate steps to re-inspect each installation by a leading solar technical expert firm,” the statement said.


Click here for the full article from CNBC

3 workers in critical condition after “electrical incident” at Google data center

Appears to be due to an arc flash event at the substation

Three people were brought to hospital after being critically injured by an “electrical incident” at the Google data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The patients are awake and talking, but were rushed to the Nebraska Medical Center in critical condition – with one taken by helicopter due to their condition.

“We are aware of an electrical incident that took place today at Google’s data center in Council Bluffs, Iowa, injuring three people onsite who are now being treated,” Google said in a statement.

“The health and safety of all workers is our absolute top priority, and we are working closely with partners and local authorities to thoroughly investigate the situation and provide assistance as needed.”

It is believed three electricians were working on a substation close to the main data center when an arc flash electrical explosion caused major burns.


See the full article from Data Center Dynamics here

PPE for Arc Flash Protection

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COVID-19 June Update: We Have Options in Place for You During This Time

As the COVID-19 concerns are still very real, we’re providing the Arc Flash/NFPA 70E training virtually for everyone’s safety.

Students can complete the same live instructor-led, interactive courses in a safer environment.

  • Live Virtual classes now scheduling throughout this summer and fall
  • Whether it’s just a few or groups of 100 or more, we can help you get this accomplished
  • Scheduling at your convenience and we can accommodate multiple shifts

We want to assure you that we’re taking all necessary health and safety precautions in accordance with the CDC and local and state health officials, and we’ll continue to actively monitor developments related to Coronavirus (COVID-19). The health and safety of our customers and employees is our highest priority.

We understand so many are affected by this and concerned about COVID-19 and the unknown that it poses, and how long this could go on. As a critical service provider, we are committed to continue keeping you compliant and ensure employee safety throughout this time, and try to maintain some sense of normalcy, as much as possible!

If you’d prefer, we can still come on-site to your facility to conduct the training as long as the CDC requirements are met.

As a critical service provider, we are committed to continue supporting essential companies and protecting all workers throughout this challenging time. Feel free to contact us anytime 877-252-2626,

We are all in this together.