Electrical Safety

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psuedonym
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Electrical Safety

Post by psuedonym » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:16 pm

Hi guys, I'm new to this forum so bear with me...

Senario:

Night worker, working alone on multiple mechanical systems within a clients premises. There are no client staff available as the site is manned with skeleton staff (2 people max) who are not experienced, trained or have been given any responsibility regarding safety or electrical maintenance etc. The mechanical systems are labelled as having 240v supply (to activate gas shutdown/extraction within the various commercial kitchens) and the engineers' employer has been made aware of this on previous visits and prior to this visit.
Prior to the works, the client has emailed the night workers' employer confirm the systems are isolated - as requested. However upon servicing the equipment, the engineer mechanically activates the gas shutdown as part of the maintenance procedure of servicing the equipment (fire suppression) as the electrical supply is not isolated nor tagged as locked out. It appears the client isolated the fire alarm zones not any other potential electrical connections within the mechanical equipment. He is alone, in the middle of his shift with no support.

What failures of H&S has he been subjected to? Should the engineer take any action?

Many thanks for your help!

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Alexis
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by Alexis » Wed Oct 31, 2012 3:51 pm

Hi psuedonym. Welcome to our forums. :wave:

I am going to let our Electrical-type knowledgeable people reply properly on this one, but for the time being, there is a free download available from the HSE which will give you some of the requirements HSE recommend for shift workers.
http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/books/hsg256.htm" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

and this one. http://www.hse.gov.uk/search/results.ht ... %3A11#1170" onclick="window.open(this.href);return false;

Hope these are of some help until others come in. :D
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by psuedonym » Wed Oct 31, 2012 6:01 pm

Cheers Alexis, I've downloaded a copy and will have a good look later, many thanks :)

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Ian Rienewerf
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by Ian Rienewerf » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:12 am

Hi Psuedo
Is this an exam question, or real life?

I would expect a competent engineer to have enough knowledge to find the isolator switches himself.
He should never rely 100% on other people to lock down without checking it out first, for himself.
(as he did when he found out that the fire alarm had been disabled by mistake)
So I can't see any breach of H&S protocol - apart from the fact that the engineer doesn't appear to know how to do his job.
He should have had more information from his employers and the client.

I can't see any major problems here.
The equipment needs to be locked out / it wasn't / he recognised that it was unsafe to continue working / so he stopped = job done, get the kettle on.
psuedonym wrote:What failures of H&S has he been subjected to?
None if he's competent to do the job
If he isn't competent - then the company has made a failure by employing him.
psuedonym wrote:Should the engineer take any action?
He can report it to his supervisor / manager if he can see a safer / better / easier way of doing the job
The system needs to be made foolproof to prevent a lesser qualified engineer encountering similar problems.
A robust method statement and lockdown checklist would help.
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by bernicarey » Thu Nov 01, 2012 10:21 am

Well I'm a little confused by the way some of this is written, so hopefully I won't go off on a tangent because I've misunderstood. ;) For example, stating "no client staff available as the site is manned with skeleton staff (2 people max)" Are there none or are there 1-2. Are they perhaps not in the area of work?

As I see it...
Engineer is working on their own, having been told that systems are isolated as requested. They find the systems are not isolated. Stop work, call the boss, if no answer go home. Unable to complete task because client had not met legal responsibilities.

That might sound a bit simplistic and there will be lot's of gnashing of teeth about can't afford to loose the client etc, but essentially the engineer could have been killed or perhaps blown the place up if a gas leak had resulted; I say this because we don't know exactly what he was doing.

The failures relate to:
A failure of the client to ensure that the equipment was left in a safe state to work on.
Also a failure of the employer to ensure that the safe system of work was in place and followed.
A failure of the employee to stop work in a situation which could have been dangerous to themselves and others.
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by Psuedonym1966 » Thu Nov 01, 2012 7:54 pm

Ian Rienewerf wrote:Hi Psuedo
Is this an exam question, or real life?

I would expect a competent engineer to have enough knowledge to find the isolator switches himself.
He should never rely 100% on other people to lock down without checking it out first, for himself.
(as he did when he found out that the fire alarm had been disabled by mistake)
So I can't see any breach of H&S protocol - apart from the fact that the engineer doesn't appear to know how to do his job.
He should have had more information from his employers and the client.
Real life i'm afraid Ian, an isloator switch was not available in the vicinity nor could details be provided by client staff to confirm switch location. Fire alarm isolation was confirmed as the disablement following events, it was not actually discovered on site at the time of service - apparently staff had no access to FA at night. The live voltage was only discovered during the process of servicing of a fire suppression system, when he activated the system as part of the process and it triggered the emergency stop - gas supply via a trip switch. The company have refused to provide multimeters to the engineers yet appear to condone working with live supply present (When informed of concerns was told "just put some tape around it"). Perhaps in hindsight the engineer should have stopped work but was afraid in doing so it would have caused further issues. He should have refused to carry out the work and reported the issue. I believe he now fully understands the importance of safety first and has learned his lessons.

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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by Ian Rienewerf » Thu Nov 01, 2012 11:03 pm

Psuedonym1966 wrote:He should have refused to carry out the work and reported the issue. I believe he now fully understands the importance of safety first and has learned his lessons.
A happy ending.
When I set up as an independant in 2005, one of my first jobs was to risk assess Corgi gas fitters, and provide them with safety training.
I recognised that 240v would be the biggest danger.
They knew all about gas, and didn't do work at height - so if they had a serious accident it was going to be driving the van, or working on live 240v.

6-months later, a subcontractor (who didn't receive my safety training) had an accident on a live 240v supply.
A very similar situation to yours.
Domestic gas boiler service / no fused spur to isolate / he killed it at the fuse box and the service went ahead / then he got a full 240v belt when he recomissioned the boiler

Lessons learn't were: if the installation parts you can see are wrong, what is the hidden wiring going to be like.
And never rely on a 30amp ring main fuse box to save your life.

He was lucky to survive,
and the company bullitin went out to stop work immediately if the wiring is wrong.
You don't get second chances.

If we can make improvements it turns a negative into a positive - he may have saved someones life already by raising awareness within the company.
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Re: Electrical Safety

Post by Psuedonym1966 » Wed Nov 07, 2012 7:18 pm

Thanks for your help Ian ;)

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