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Author Topic: Walmart Arc Flash  (Read 2672 times)

Mike Sokol

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Walmart Arc Flash
« on: December 29, 2014, 12:03:13 pm »

I'm getting the year-end accident reports from the various electrical forums I'm on, so here's an apparent arc flash accident that occurred back in August. Note that his nylon shirt caught fire and I'm guessing melted into his skin. I'm also positing that there was no PPE used or available. Those electrical panels in box stores are HUGE, so full arc flash safety precautions should always be used.

Don't know why the local police department is investigating this accident when they really should get electrical inspectors involved. And I don't think Walmart has electricians as employees so this was probably an outside electrical contractor.   


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An electrician was severely burned from an electrical fire earlier this month at a Graham, Texas, Walmart store. He was "changing out breakers, and the box shorted," according to a report in the Graham Leader.

The electrician received third-degree burns on his hands, and he had on a kind of a nylon shirt that caught fire. Some Walmart employees came to his aid with fire extinguishers. The fire was limited to the loading dock at the back of the store, the newspaper reported.

The man was conscious and alert, according to the EMS Director. The exact cause of the fire is not known; the Graham Police Department is currently investigating the matter.


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Mike Sokol
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Jeff Bankston

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #1 on: December 29, 2014, 05:46:39 pm »

you have to be vary careful when opening up panels. i have opened panels that had the dead front with one screw and no screws holding it. thats an arc flash waiting to happen. some of that switch gear is so flemsy i dont like being near it. open that stuff slowly. i always wore 100% cotton shirts and 100% cotton jeans. they might catch fire but they will not melt to your skin. that must be painful. its best to wear a full face shield like the clear one Sears sells. it might look strange but its a barrier between the panel and your eyes and face. wear leahter gloves. and as i think about this a long sleave cotton shirt wouldnt hutr either. i'm also thinking about those welding jackets. i have read and ben told about arc flashes that happen and a guy that worked for a company i worked for died from an arc flash. i have seen some horrible fotos of peoples face after an arc flash.

OSHA and the local city electrical inspectors are suppose to be investigating that Walmart accident in Texas. the police are not electricians. i would be willing to bet that he puched too hard and grounded a buss bar to the panel can. i have seen panel guts as we call them with exposed buss bars on the back side. if you push real hard they will touch the can and ground out and Boom ! i dont know how some of the stuff i have seen gets the UL approval.
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Steve Bradbury

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #2 on: December 29, 2014, 06:04:00 pm »

This leaflet from the IET gives recommended levels of protection based on energy levels.

http://www.theiet.org/factfiles/health/hsb51c-page.cfm?type=pdf
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #3 on: December 29, 2014, 08:46:27 pm »

Not to quarrel-but a standard plastic faceshield is not designed for arc flash protection.  If you are in a situation where a faceshield is needed, spend the money and get one designed for the purpose.

+1 on the cotton shirt (long sleeved) and jeans-a simple, inexpensive but effective precaution that is the minimum any time you are working in an energized panel (including the one in your basement).  NFPA 70E gives generic requirements based on panel size/voltage that can be used if an arc flash study has not yet been done-I can't find a copy of the table right now.

Perhaps the police department is involved because there is a question about the contractors qualifications/legal status to do the work??
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Mike Sokol

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #4 on: December 31, 2014, 01:14:54 pm »

Found an update on this accident. The media keeps calling it a "fire" but I'm pretty sure it was an arc-flash. 

Mike

From the Graham Police Department:

The victim was identified as Christopher Andrew Wilbur, 34 years of age, from Wichita Falls, Texas. Wilbur was reported to have severe electrical burns on his body. Wilbur was initially treated at the scene by Graham E.M.S., transported to the Graham Regional Hospital, and then transported by Care Flight to Parkland Hospital in Dallas, Texas.

During the investigation, Officers learned that Wilbur was a contract electrical worker who was working alone inside the “electrical room” that is located in the stockroom at Wal-Mart. Wilbur was there to replace a breaker. According to witnesses at the scene, Wilbur came running out of the “electrical room” and it appeared that he was on fire. Wal-Mart employees who were in the stockroom came to Wilbur’s aid and extinguished the flames.

Subsequently, a Wal-Mart employee was burned on the hand while trying to extinguish the flames. On Thursday, August 7th, 2014 at approximately 9:15AM, Wilbur was reported to be in critical condition, but stable at this time by the Parkland Hospital Burn Center.
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Mike Sokol
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Stephen Swaffer

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2014, 01:50:37 pm »

I a guessing the arc flash started his clothing on fire-not an uncommon event in cases I have read.  Having come into contact with melting nylon while fusing the end of a nylon rope, the prospect of wearing a melting nylon shirt is very unpleasant indeed.
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Steve Swaffer

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Re: Walmart Arc Flash
« Reply #5 on: December 31, 2014, 01:50:37 pm »


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