The Navarre Public and Occupational Health Institute (ISPLN) recently published the analysis of a serious workplace accident due to an electric shock and issued its conclusions and recommendations on how to avoid this incident from happening again.
Consequently, technicians from the occupational health service run an investigation after each serious occupational accident (three cases in Navarre in the last few weeks). Once complete, the notification is drawn up with the relevant preventive recommendations and it is sent to business organisations, similar companies, trade union organisations, health and safety services, workers and citizens in general, as the Navarre Government stated in a press release.
On this occasion, an accident was analysed that had happened during electrical maintenance work on low voltage cabinets. The job, consisting of retightening connections using a wrench and cleaning off any mud, was performed with the power off although for operating reasons, part of the facility was powered. The worker involved in the accident had been informed. For unknown reasons, an electrical arc or discharge occurred, probably due to elements still powered being too close together or accidental contact between them. After the electrical arc took place, the worker's clothing burned quickly and he suffered wounds on his face, arms and chest.
After analysing the incident, its causes were put in objective terms as follows: the disconnection procedure carried out was deficient; the worker was not protected against other elements that were still powered. In addition, the worker was not using the right personal preventive equipment for an electric arc risk (clothing, gloves and face protection), due to which the injuries were more serious, he added.
The ISPLN recommendations state the importance of an appropriate disconnection procedure, by applying 'the five golden rules' (disconnection, verification that there is no power, preventing reconnection, earthing and short-circuiting if necessary and protecting against other elements that are still powered), according to annex II of R.D. 614/2001, dated 8th June, on protecting workers against electrical risks.
It also highlights that, although collective protection should always be prioritised over individual, all workers at risk of exposure to electric arcs should make preventive use of the right personal preventive equipment using at least: screens that filter optical radiation occurring during an electrical discharge (inactinic) as safety glasses do not provide enough protection; and long sleeved clothing, even in summer, and gloves providing protection against electric arcs, depending on the power of the facility, proximity to transformation centres, etc.
Finally, in this type of work, the ISPLN recommends consulting the personal preventive equipment supplier, consulting the occupational risk prevention service and looking at risk prevention sheet no. 40 issued by the ISPLN.
Navarre remains tenth in the accident rates among the regions of Spain, with a below-average rate, slightly lower than regions such as La Rioja or the Basque Country, added the Executive.
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Source: Europa Press Agency