Excerpt from the OH&S Canada Magazine

An Alberta employee returned to work almost a week after an electrical contact injured him and left his co-worker dead.

At about 5:30 pm on December 12, employees at Calgary-based Iko Industries Inc. were in the process of replacing an electric circuit unit on an electric panel when the crew foreman came in contact with a 4,160-volt live wire and was electrocuted, says Barrie Harrison, a spokesperson for Alberta Employment, Immigration and Industry (AEII).

Calgary Emergency Medical Services (EMS) identified the deceased as Shawn Coffery, 42. The second worker, 64, received minor burn injuries to his hands, reports plant manager Aaron Holmes. He returned to work December 17.

Provincial safety officers issued a stop-work order against Iko Industries after the accident, Harrison says. The order was to remain in effect “until the cause is determined and corrective measures are put in place,” he comments.

Holmes reported that company officials were also investigating.

Ted Olechna, provincial code engineer for the Electrical Safety Authority in Cambridge, Ontario, says breakers are used to protect against a short circuit or electrical overload. But even if power is turned off, Olechna cautions, one side of the breaker “is always going to be live.”

To help prevent electrical contact, he suggests that workers “look further down the stream” to see where current can be isolated.

My opinion

The corresponding section to cover this accident would be the Ontario ‘Industrial’ regulation 851, section which states,

“The power supply to electrical installations, equipment or conductors shall be disconnected, locked out of service and tagged before any work is done, and while it is being done, on or near lived exposed parts of the installations, equipment or conductors.”

Did you, the reader, notice that the advice of the ONTARIO provincial code engineer for the ‘Electrical Safety Authority’ was requested? I wonder why? That was an easy choice as safety standards are higher here than they are out there.

HRS Group Inc. deals with numerous companies. We strive to leave our clients in safer shape than when we first arrive. It is our commitment to safety that we feel honour-bound to report deficiencies in the companies practices and encourage an immediate corrective action plan. For ‘Lockout and Tagout’ companies should include written instructions on the proper procedures especially if there are hidden or secondary power sources. Most large companies using LOTO have written instructions and some have laminated sets of instructions permanently situated at the power supply. (as a backup or a reminder)

This particular instance, a pre-meeting by the supervisor would have been advantageous to both workers. The identification of the proper procedure, including any secondary sources and the proper location for LOTO, usually downstream, would have saved the life of the crew foreman.

There was no need for anyone to die. The information is there to protect the workers. I just wish Alberta would think of their employees once in a while instead of cleaning up their messes. This accident was totally unnecessary.

By the way, the company would have been found guilty of a few section of the Ontario OHSA that would have lead to fines up to $25,000 for each contravention and a possible company fine of $500,000. Oh yes, the personal fines COULD include a year in jail as well.

Remember — In Canada, “ALL Accidents are Preventable”

HRS Group Inc. has a great team that can help you with all your health and safety needs including ‘Electrical Safety Awareness’ and ‘Lockout and Tagout’. Contact Deborah toll free at 1-877-907-7744 or locally at 705-749-1259.

We can also be reached at info@hrsgroup.com

‘Work’ and ‘Play’ safe.

Daniel L. Beal
CHSEP – Foundation Level
VP & Senior Trainer
HRS Group Inc.

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