The most recent citations incurred fines of just over $40,000.
Graphite dust accumulated in several control panels, which were rated as HRC Level 4 arc flash and associated shock hazard. Accumulation of graphite dust provides a conductive path for electricity under the right circumstances, so workers were exposed to a shock hazard. This same conductive path also presents an electrical grounding or shorting potential, with an associated increased injury potential from the dangerous Level 4 arc flash hazard present in these panels.
Broken parts were found on other pieces of electrical equipment labeled as either Level 0 or Level 4 arc flash and shock hazard. Employees worked and operated forklifts around this equipment, and the fact that the panel doors would not stay shut due to broken parts means the workers were exposed to potential arc flash and electric shock.
Other 480V panels were cited for not having enough work space in front of them or having their air vents blocked by cardboard. These cabinets were labeled as HRC Level 0. Work space requirements are listed in Table S1 in OSHA 1910.
Another violation involved switchboards, panelboards, and distribution boards not installed in dedicated spaces that would protect them from damage. Forklifts were being used daily near these panels, and the workers were exposed to risk of electric shock or electrocution.
Learn from someone else’s mistakes. Take some time early in the new year to walk through your plant and look for areas that could use some improvement. Make sure employees are adequately trained and know what to do if and when they work around electrical equipment. All workers’ lives should be protected from workplace hazards.