Protecting employees and clients from hazards of electrical equipment and ensure data center safety

Phillip Sandino, Vice President of Data Center Operations at RagingWire Data Centers, looks at how data center operators can better protect employees and clients from the hazards of electrical equipment and ensure data center safety.

“For decades, data center technicians have worked on energized equipment, even though they put their lives and others around them at risk.

So why do they keep doing it?

To some extent the answer lies in human nature and the nature of data center operators. As humans, we are creatures of habit. As data center operators we like to follow established procedures.

However, those of us in the data center industry have learned a lot over the past two decades. We’ve changed our engineering, building designs, construction processes, etc. Now it’s time to take a hard look at our operational procedures so we can take steps forward to be a safer industry. It’s time to upgrade our data center safety.”

He goes on to explain the need for putting an end to doing energized work and how data center operators and contractors should work together. Phillip also explains how following the 2018 NFPA 70E standard will create a safer work environment for data center electrical safety:

NFPA 70E – New Rules for Data Center Safety

The key safety guidelines for data centers come from the National Fire Protection Agency (NFPA). The 2018 version of these guidelines is known as NFPA 70E, titled “Standard for Electrical Safety in the Workplace.” This new edition includes revisions to remove the “prohibited approach boundary,” effectively limiting energized work to only a few applications. Commercial convenience is not one of the exempted activities. OSHA uses NFPA 70E for their safety audits and citations.

So how do we get more data center operators to adopt a culture of data center safety? Here is a checklist of steps to take:

The Path Toward Data Center Electrical Safety:

  • Gain commitment from executive leadership to NFPA 70E compliance by:
    • Analyzing the potential risks to people and financials
    • Consulting with an experienced law firm
  • Develop both technical and business practices to work de-energized
  • Develop SLAs that clearly show both the company and clients what to expect
  • Remember that compliance with the law supersedes contract language
  • Develop a legal/business notice of compliance that explains how your company intends to comply with the law
  • Build language about exceptions into your policy
  • Build compliance into maintenance calendars and methods of procedure (MOPS)Analyze your business to understand if you are fully compliant with the law

Click here to read more from this article

Work Electrocution While on the Job

Modesto City Worker Dies of Electrocution While on the Job

An employee of the City of Medesto was electrocuted while on the job and city officials confirm the employee of six years has died.

It was a tragic work-related accident that took the life of Tyrone Hairston.

Candles and flowers have been placed near where Cal/OSHA says he was electrocuted while installing a street light.

In a statement to FOX40, the City of Modesto spokesman said Hairston was proud of his work as an electrician assistant and had a high work ethic. The city manager said in a statement:

“This incident is a tragic reminder of the hazards some of our employees face in the field, and underscores the criticality of our maintenance work.”

City of Modesto employees and his family are devastated. They say he was the kind of guy who helped anyone in need and greeted everyone with a smile.

Cal/OSHA says they are now investigating and add, “Cal/OSHA has six months to issue citations for any violations of workplace safety.” A spokesman said the cause of the accident will be made available when their inspection is complete.

The city manager ended his statement with, “We thrive under a culture of supporting one another, and should take this opportunity to show care for those around us.”

Story from FOX40

Construction Worker Seriously Shocked

Construction worker seriously shocked in Venice

On January 9th, 2018, a 56-year-old construction worker was found lying on the ground at Village on the Isle, Venice, FL, critically injured.

When the accident occurred, the man had been working on equipment that was inside the electrical room. The unfortunate happening threw him across the room. When responders found him, he was somewhat conscious.

The worker had been seriously shocked and suffered electrical burns.

He was flown in a helicopter to the trauma center at Blake Medical Center located in Bradenton, FL for treatment.

To read the full article, click here

Hopefully Companies will Implement Safer Work Practices to Avoid these Types of Tragedies

Companies Fined for Big Bend Accident after Multiple Lives Lost and Serious Injury

In June of 2017, a total of five employees of Tampa Electric Co., Gaffin Industrial Services Inc. and Brace Integrated Services Inc. lost their lives due to serious injuries they incurred while on-the-job, and another suffered severe burns. After the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration investigated the Big Bend River Station electrical power plant in Apollo Beach, it was found that the employees had been burned because of a blockage that was inside a coal-fired furnace. When the blockage broke free, molten slag ejected out all over the work zone.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Tampa Electric Co. and Gaffin Industrial Services Inc. a total of $160,972. Tampa Electric Co. was cited for neglecting to form processes to control hazardous energy. Tampa Electric Co. and Gaffin Industrial Services Inc. were cited for failing to supply employees with the necessary personal protective equipment (PPE) to ensure they would be protected from burns. Brace Integrated Services Inc. was not cited for anything.

Kurt Petermeyer, the OSHA Atlanta Regional Administrator, said, “This tragedy demonstrates what can happen when hazards are not properly controlled,” and added, “Employers must develop and implement necessary procedures to prevent incidents such as this from occurring.”

Tampa Electric Co. released the statement, “This accident has forever changed our company; the families of those affected remain our priority. We respect OSHA’s process and have participated fully with their investigation as a valuable part of understanding what happened. However, we respectfully disagree with the suggestion we were willful or deliberately indifferent to the safety of workers. We cannot change what happened, but we are committed to learning from it to ensure nothing like this happens again. Since the incident, our team and the union have been working hard together to improve safety, including reviewing and improving work procedures, strengthening the safety language in our collective bargaining agreement, and developing a long-term strategy to improve our safety culture. We are more focused on safety than ever before. As part of the process, we will meet with OSHA to discuss the citations and to determine our next steps.”

To read the full article, click here.

Arc Flash victim avoids injury thanks to PPE

This worker was able to escape an arc flash without injury because he was wearing his PPE and it very well could have saved his life.

SHERMAN, Texas (KXII) — An arc flash at the Panda Power station Tuesday in south Sherman sent one employee to the hospital.

An employee was de-energizing on a breaker, according to Panda Energy spokesperson Bill Pentak, when an arc flash occurred.

“The employee was wearing his PPE (Personal Protection Equipment) gear, and he was taken to the hospital,” Pentak said. “The worker was not injured, and he has returned to the job.”

Pentak said the employee was taken to the hospital as part of Panda Energy’s emergency protocol. The facility, Pentak said, was already shut down for scheduled maintenance when the incident occurred.

The company is investigating why the arc flash occurred, Pentak said.

Click here to read more on this incident.