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FACE Report: Worker electrocuted while replacing light fixture

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Case report: #2018OR40
Issued by: Oregon State Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation (FACE) Program
Date of incident: Sept. 26, 2018

A 28-year-old lighting technician, employed three weeks with a staffing agency and with no electrical trade experience, was electrocuted while working on an energized lighting fixture. He was part of a crew of subcontracted technicians replacing lights at a large retail store chain during a night shift while the lighting circuits were energized. Workplace hazards at the store were not identified, and a trained competent person was not onsite. The foreman believed the lights were on a 208/120-volt single-phase panel, but they were on an energized 480/277-volt three-phase panel. At the time of the incident, the victim was working on a fixture without a quick disconnect. Around 3:30 a.m., co-workers saw the victim slumped over a scaffold, not moving. CPR was initiated and co-workers called 911. Emergency medical services arrived and pronounced the victim dead at the scene. After the victim was removed and law enforcement left, the foreman and remaining crew continued to work, completing the disconnect installation the victim was working on, exposing themselves to similar – and potentially fatal – hazards.

To help prevent similar incidents, employers should:

  • A competent person should be onsite to identify and mitigate safety hazards, and to stop work when an injury occurs.
  • Workers should deenergize circuits and use lockout/tagout procedures before performing work.
  • Employers should provide written procedures and training to ensure workers are able to safely perform potentially hazardous tasks.

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