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Electric utility cited after electrician's arc flash injuries

Electric utility cited after electrician's arc flash injuries

A Georgia utility company is facing $112,000 in proposed fines from federal workplace safety regulators after an arc flash severely burned an electrician at one of its plants.

The U.S. Occupational Safety and Health Administration cited Georgia Power Co., a unit of Atlanta-based Southern Co., after a 48-year-old electrician working on an electrical cabinet that was still powered was injured by an arc flash at the utility's Plant Bowen generating facility in October 2015, according to an agency news release issued on Monday. The electrician, an employee of Zurich-based technology company ABB Inc., suffered second and third-degree burns to his hands, arms and torso, according to the release.

Georgia Power received two repeat citations for 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 start up during maintenance and servicing — violations it was cited for in 2014 at the same facility, according to OSHA. The company was also cited for serious violations such as failing to ensure proper grounding of electrical equipment, inform other employers of their electrical lockout program and provide adequate procedures for electrical energy isolation.

ABB was issued two serious citations for its failure to coordinate with other employers on the specific requirements of removing power from equipment before maintenance and servicing and for exposing workers to electrical hazards and is facing $10,780 in proposed fines from OSHA.

“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,” Christi Griffin, OSHA's director of the Atlanta-West Office, said in a statement. “This incident was totally preventable if his employers simply followed OSHA standards.”

“The safety and health of our employees and the public is a core value for Georgia Power,” the utility said in a statement. “We are committed to the safe operation of our generation facilities with equipment, systems and processes that meet and exceed all safety and operational requirements.

We have worked with OSHA and the contractor that employed the individual since this incident occurred and have assisted in every way possible in the investigation. We are reviewing the citations, which included no willful violations, to determine our next steps.”

In an emailed statement Wednesday, an ABB spokeswoman said the company “takes the safety of our employees very seriously.”

“We have received the OSHA citations and are in process of reviewing all details of the citations carefully to ensure consistency between the evidence we have collected to date in the incident and the facts alleged in the citations,” she said.

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