Berkeley Lab

Electrical Safety Support During Curtailed Operations

While the Laboratory is in a state of Curtailed Operations, the Electrical Safety Group will reduce it’s on site presence to practice “Social Distancing”.  Support of the Laboratory’s mission will continue to take place remotely.  Requests that require on-site support will be prioritized and coordinated to ensure best use of limited resources. Response time may be delayed.

For LOTO support requests click here

For Non-NRTL (small chassis) equipment inspection support click here

For Electrical Installation Inspection requests click here

For Divisional electrical safety contacts or other requests click here




QEW Support Shop Open in Building 58

Do you need someone to conduct some small electrical repairs on your cord & plug equipment? Perhaps you’re in the process of building your own instrumentation and aren’t familiar with the Engineering Build Standards and would like to work under the Direct Field Supervision of an Engineering Division QEW who can help you ensure your equipment will be built properly and pass an AHJ Field Evaluation. There is QEW support available in Building 58, along with electrical work benches for you to work on your R & D electrical and electronics equipment. They can be reached at 486-5531. Rick Bloemhard can also be reached at 510-684-7019.

OSHA Resources – Electrical Hazard Recognition

Want some more information regarding Electrical hazard recognition? Click HERE and you will be re-directed to an OSHA page with access to fact sheets, statistics and other tidbits regarding electrical safety.

Duke Energy: 1 employee electrocuted and company fined for failing to implement control measures its safety team developed to protect employees

DUKE Energy fined $90,000 in connection with worker death.

Dasher and other employees were testing equipment at a substation when Dasher came into contact with a test line carrying approximately 10,000 volts of electricity.

Officials said Dasher fell down. When co-workers got to him, he was breathing. They immediately contacted medical personnel and performed CPR while waiting for an ambulance to arrive.

Dasher was rushed to the hospital in critical condition. The 35-year-old Oxford man died eight days later at the hospital.

A news release issued by the U.S. Department of Labor states that Dasher was using a circuit-testing technique that bypassed safety protocols designed to protect workers from electrical currents. Duke Energy, the release states, knew workers were bypassing safety protocols to conduct testing and did not enforce safety standards. Because of this, officials said “the company has a history of nonfatal shock injuries.”

“Duke Energy is aware of the fatal hazards that Dasher and other workers are exposed to but failed to implement control measures its safety team developed to protect employees,” said Brian Sturtecky, director of OSHA’s Jacksonville area office, on Friday.
The release explains that a willful citation was given to Duke Energy for “failure to have a qualified observer present during testing that could immediately de-energize circuits,” and that “a willful violation is one committed with intentional, knowing or voluntary disregard for the law’s requirement, or with plain indifference to worker safety and health.”

Serious citations OSHA officials gave Duke Energy were for failure to ensure transformers were grounded and safety-checked between each test, and failure to provide training to workers who assisted with transformer testing. Another citation came from failure to ensure controlled access to the test area to protect workers from electrical shock hazards.

A serious violation is described as when there is substantial probability that death or serious physical harm could result from a hazard, about which the employer knew or should have known.

OSHA officials have proposed that Duke Energy be placed on their “severe violator enforcement program for demonstrating indifference to its OSHA obligations to provide a safe and healthful workplace for employees.”

To read the entire article, click HERE

Ramping up on NFPA 70E with Bobby Gray

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Bobby Gray teaching 2012 NFPA 70E and its applicability to our lab.

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Participants from across the lab gaining greater knowledge of 70E and the intent behind the requirements.

Last month, we held a two-day seminar on Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E) in preparation for the roll-out of our revised Electrical Safety Program (Chapter 8 of PUB-3000) and our new Electrical Safety Manual. Bobby is very familiar with Berkeley Lab and the complex. As a nationally recognized expert on Electrical Safety, he sits on several technical committees including those responsible for writing and revising the National Electrical Code (NFPA 70) and Electrical Safety in the Workplace (NFPA 70E). Bobby is an invaluable resource, having retired from the DOE complex. We were very fortunate to have him come to our site to not only teach 70E, but to also provide the background behind the various regulations, and the reasoning used to make determinations. Bobby also provided a separate 4-hour session on the upcoming changes to 70E in the 2015 revision. The lab is adopting the 2012 70E standard during our current program revision and has no plans to adopt the 2015 revision until after the next National Electrical Code update. There were over 30 participants from all over the lab that got to benefit from this experience.

OSHA Cites employer

OSHA cited an employer and is seeking $150,000 in fines after a temporary worker received an electrical shock and burn. Click here for article.

LOTO Roles: Authorized Person

Coveralls What is a LOTO Authorized Person? We get this question a lot. Every person involved in working on a system with a LOTO has a very specific role with associated responsibilities. From Chapter 18 of the PUB-3000: A person who has completed the required LOTO training (general and procedure-specific) and is authorized by the supervisor or work lead to perform LOTO on energy isolation points to perform service or maintenance. Only LOTO Authorized Persons shall apply locks and tags to control hazardous energy.

Any person performing work on a system or piece of equipment that meets the threshold for LOTO, must take LOTO training for Authorized Persons, EHS-370. LOTO Authorized Persons shall only apply their own personal LOTO lock prior to commencing work on the equipment to be Locked and Tagged Out (LOTO’d). When you attend EHS-370 you are given personal LOTO tags.

Some LOTO Authorized Persons may also be Qualified Electrical Workers (QEW). Authorized Persons are not required to be QEWs when the work they are performing doesn’t present an electrical hazard. Examples of this would be when a piece of equipment is LOTO’d out because someone needs to replace a belt. Replacing a belt, does not present an electrical hazard; however turning on the equipment while the belt is being replaced could pose other hazards due to rotating machinery such as eye hazards from flying debris and the potential for fingers to get caught up in the machinery among others.

There are quite few roles identified in our LOTO program. For more information regarding Authorized Persons and other LOTO-related information, please check out Chapter 18.

Electrical Fires and You

27-outlet-overload-2According to the U.S. Fire Administration (USFA), there are 28,600 electrical fires per year. These fires cause $1.1 billion in property  damage and loss and are responsible for 310 deaths and 1,100 injuries each year.

The months with the most electrical fires are December and January due to increased use of heating appliances and lights. Most electrical fires start in the bedroom, but the highest number of fatalities occur with fires located in the living room, family room and den.

Some electrical fires happen because of problems in house wiring or appliance failure, but many occur due to mistakes that homeowners make like overloading electrical outlets or extension cords. Just because there is an unused outlet on a multi-outlet plug strip doesn’t mean that you should plug more appliances or lights into it. Look at them the same way you do your checkbook – having checks available is not an indication of funds available.

In order to prevent yourself or someone you love from becoming an electrical fire statistic, it is important to be aware of the common causes of electrical fires.
Here are the 5 most common causes of electrical fires:
1. Most electrical fires are caused by faulty electrical outlets and old, outdated appliances. Other fires are started by faults in appliance cords, receptacles and switches. Never use an appliance with a worn or frayed cord which can send heat onto combustible surfaces like floors, curtains, and rugs that can start a fire.
Running cords under rugs is another cause of electrical fires. Removing the grounding plug from a cord so it can be used in a two-prong electrical outlet can also cause a fire.

2. Light fixtures, lamps and light bulbs are another common reason for electrical fires. Installing a bulb with a wattage that is too high for the lamps and light fixtures is a leading cause of electrical fires. Always check the maximum recommended bulb wattage on any lighting fixture or lamp and never go over the recommended amount.
Another cause of fire is placing materials like cloth or paper over a lampshade. The material heats up and ignites, causing a fire. Faulty lamps and light fixtures also frequently result in fires.

3. Misuse of extension cords is another electrical fire cause. Appliances should be plugged directly into outlet and not plugged into an extension cord for any length of time. Only use extension cords as a temporary measure. If you do not have the appropriate type of outlets for your appliances, hire an electrician to install new ones.

4. Space heaters are a major cause of electrical fires. Because these types of heaters are portable, many times people put them too close to combustible surfaces such as curtains, beds, clothing, chairs, couches and rugs. If you do use space heaters, use the radiator-type that diffuse heat over the entire surface of the appliance. Your safest bet is to keep all flammable items at least 3 feet away from your space heaters.

5. Outdated wiring often causes electrical fires. If a home is over twenty years old, it may not have the wiring capacity to handle the increased amounts of electrical appliances in today’s average home, such as computers, wide screen televisions, DVD players, microwaves and air conditioners.
Breakers should be triggered when circuits get overloaded, but outdated breaker boxes often have worn connectors that do not work, causing the system to overload and start an electrical fire.

New Test Before Touch Logos Available!

LBW-TBTThe new Lockout Before Work, Test Before Touch logo stickers are in! Stop by Bldg 78 to get yours!