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Tragic Electrical Accident Leads to Safety Changes

Julie Copeland

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Last week, I used this space to touch on reasons for being thankful. I also took theThis worker's story, a tragic electrical accident, led to making positive changes in the workplace to keep workers safe. opportunity to promise to share in upcoming blogs impactful life changing stories about making positive changes in the workplace to keep workers safe. These stories inspire our own employees because we know first-hand that we are impacting lives in a positive way. I hope you will find value in the stories and the lessons that we share.

This story comes to us from a Safety Supervisor for a large manufacturer in the southwest. A couple of years ago, before Arbill partnered with them to build a culture of safety at their various facilities, one of their senior workers was working on an electrical issue. We’re told he followed all of the safety rules at the time, and he and his company thought he was protected.

Under the worker’s fire resistant clothing, he wore a t-shirt, as many workers do. That t-shirt was exposed in the neck and chest area. During the repair, there was a small explosion which knocked the worker off his feet. The protective shirt, gloves and coverall took the brunt of the explosion and minimized the flame damage to most of the worker’s body, but the exposed t-shirt caught fire and continued to burn as the worker lay unconscious.

The worker suffered 2nd and 3rd degree burns to his chest, neck and face. He has undergone several operations and missed months of work due to the tragic accident. His disfigurement did not have to happen.

Though it is true that work accidents can happen any time, it is also true that most accidents are avoidable.

Safety Statistics

Every year in the United States, workplace electrical incidents result in more than 300 deaths and 3,500 injuries.  While electrical hazards are not the leading cause of on-the-job injuries and fatalities, they are disproportionately fatal and costly.  For every 13 electrical injuries – a worker dies.  Most of these electrical related fatalities and injuries could be prevented.  Awareness of workplace electrical hazards and knowledge of best practices are critical to reducing these staggering statistics.

Before Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) was created 43 years ago, an estimated 14,000 workers were killed on the job every year. As reported by OSHA, workplaces are much safer and healthier today, going from 38 fatal injuries a day to 12. The preliminary count of fatal occupational injuries in the U.S. in 2013 was 4,405, below the revised total of 4,628 in 2012. Overall, fatal occupational injuries are down nearly 25 percent over the past decade.

OSHA also reports that the rate of nonfatal occupational injury and illness cases requiring days away from work to recuperate was 112 cases per 10,000 full-time workers in 2012, down from 117 in 2011, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. The total number of private industry, state government, and local government cases with days away from work decreased 2% to 1,153,980 cases. The median days away from work -- a key measure of severity of injuries and illnesses--was 9 days. This is one day more than in 2011.

Changes in the Workplace

With regard to the southwest manufacturer, there is now a greater understanding of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) since Arbill did a safety assessment and several safety trainings to educate and keep their workers safe. Beyond the understanding, there is greater acceptance of wearing the right PPE and protecting against vulnerabilities that could lead to accidents. Workers have embraced a higher level focus on safety, and incidents have dropped significantly. Consequently, when the number of incidents dropped, so did safety spend – cost for injuries, down time, medical assistance and lawsuits. The company is now more productive than ever… and much safer, too!

We are grateful for this change and the greater value and awareness to human life in the workplace. We want that number of injuries to continue to decrease.

If your workers need safety training or PPE, we are here to help. If your company would like to lower the number of incidents and improve their bottom line, we can introduce a culture of safety that will lead to increased production and profitability. Visit www.arbill.com to learn more or call us to talk about your specific needs.

Over the holiday season I will continue to share impactful life changing stories about making positive changes in the workplace to keep workers safe. Please share these stories with your workers. In fact, share our blog link with them so they can receive our blog for free every week. These communications are not used to sell products or services but to make workers aware of safety dangers and to share our perspective and keen focus on keeping workers safe.

Have a safe holiday season!

Topics: Arbill, culture of safety, safe work environment, electrical safety, OSHA, keep your employees safe, Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)

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