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OSHA fines US utility and contractor for arc flash incident

03 May 2016

The US Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has proposed fines of $122,780 after a contractor’s employee at Georgia Power's Plant Bowen generating facility was badly burned in an arc flash incident. The ABB Inc. employee suffered second and third-degree burns to his hands, arms and torso.

Georgia Power received two repeated, five serious and two other-than-serious safety citations. The repeated violations relate to the employer failing to ensure the electrical cabinet was not powered down before allowing work to begin and not developing specific steps to power down machinery and prevent starting up during maintenance and servicing. Georgia Power was previously cited for similar violations in 2014 at this facility.

The company's serious violations relate to its failure to:
·  Ensure proper grounding of electrical equipment.
·  Inform other employers of their electrical lockout program.
·  Provide adequate procedures for electrical energy isolation.

ABB Inc. was issued two serious citations. The serious violations relate to the employer's failure to coordinate with other employers on the specific requirements of removing power from equipment before maintenance and servicing and exposing workers to electrical hazards.

Christi Griffin, director of the OSHA Atlanta-West Office, said: "Every day, employees place their trust in their employers to keep them safe while they work, unfortunately Georgia Power and ABB failed to ensure the cabinet was properly de-energized before allowing the electrician to begin working. This incident was totally preventable if his employers simply followed OSHA standards," said

The companies have 15 business days from receipt of its citations and proposed penalties to comply, request a conference with OSHA's area director, or contest the findings before the independent Occupational Safety and Health Review Commission.

In 2013, OSHA fined the Georgia Power $119,000 for 17 serious violations at Plant Bowen, according to 11Alive.

Citations included one violation for inadequate maintenance of the plant's gaseous hydrogen system and another for ignition sources placed near hydrogen valves. 

OSHA also said employees did not receive training on equipment before working on it, and
on one occasion the company failed to shut off a generator in a safe way after it was closed for repairs.

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