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OSHA Cites Metal Extraction Facility After Workers Burned by Arc Flash

OSHA Cites Metal Extraction Facility After Workers Burned by Arc Flash

ASARCO faces $278,456 in penalties for two willful violations and one serious violation.

The U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has cited ASARCO – a metal smelting company – for electrical hazards after an arc flash caused three workers to suffer severe burns at its facility in Hayden, Arizona. The company faces $278,456 in penalties for two willful violations and one serious violation.

OSHA inspectors determined the arc flash occurred after the insertion of a breaker into a 4,160-volt switchgear. OSHA cited the company for its failure to provide a pre-job briefing before work began on the energized switchgear, render the electrical breaker inoperable before work began, and ensure the injured employees had arc-flash protective clothing.

“Employers must not jeopardize the safety of workers,” said OSHA Regional Administrator Barbara Goto, in San Francisco, California. “Arc flash hazards are well known, but can be eliminated when workers are properly trained and protective equipment is provided.”

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Employer Deemed Responsible for Electrical Worker’s Death   

Employer Deemed Responsible for Electrical Worker’s Death   

Queensland, Australia electrical worker, Danny George Cheney, was electrocuted on December 5, 2009. His coworker, Macquin Parungao, sustained four electrical shocks while attempting to save him. The coroner had found that Cheney’s employer was to blame for his death, as he was not equipped with the proper tools to safely perform the tasks he was given. He was also found to lack the proper training for his new job position that he had been promoted to, which resulted in him not following the Activity Method Statement (AMS). If he had been given the proper training and equipment, his death may have been avoided.

Last week, coroner Kevin Priestly found the tragedy occurred because Mr Cheney’s employer, John Holland, had not adequately trained him in a new role he had recently accepted.

A month before the incident, Mr Cheney had been promoted and moved to a new project.

The coroner found while “a number of factors” likely contributed to the death, the workers did not have the correct equipment with them when the accident happened, and that Mr Cheney had not followed the Activity Method Statement (AMS) — a plan designed to ensure safety on worksites.

However, the coroner ruled mistakes made by Mr Cheney were caused by a lack of adequate training relating to his new position.

“Mr Cheney deviated from the requirement in the AMS, likely due to a number of operational factors but most importantly because of a gap in his knowledge about the difference between earthing and bonding, and the circumstances in which each is applied,” he wrote.

“Mr Cheney was exposed to different practises and procedures during his work with John Holland but had received no formal training on those matters. He had no formal qualifications that covered those matters.

“Mr Cheney adopted what he thought was an alternative method of earthing, without adequate safety equipment and in an apparent desire to get the job done. The conductors were not effectively earthed and Mr Cheney was electrocuted.”

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