Work on Live Fixture Causes Fatal Accident Hazard Alert

Topic: Work on Live Fixture Causes Fatal Accident
Date Issued: December 23, 2009 Date Revised: September 1, 2022

An experienced electrician was killed while changing fluorescent light fixtures.

The electrician was moving a series of light fixtures as part of a building renovation. He was alone and standing on a stepladder when the accident occurred. He was working with his upper body above the suspended ceiling and his chest against metal water pipes, making him a good grounding path. The victim was electrocuted when he came into contact and stayed in contact with an energized 347-volt Bx12/2 wire. The wire had been removed from the fixture and left hanging at his side.

WorkSafeNB determined the primary cause of the fatality to be working on a live fixture.

Recommended Preventive Action

  • An employer shall ensure that electrical equipment has a means of isolating its energy source and the energy source is (a) lockable, (b) situated in a location that is familiar to all employees, and (c) properly identified. [Section 287.3(1), Reg. 91-191]
  • When the circumstances do not permit electrical equipment to be placed in electrically safe work condition before working on or near energized exposed parts of the electrical equipment, an employer shall ensure the work is carried out by a qualified person and the employer and qualified person shall each ensure that a written code of practice is established in accordance with section 287.41. [Section 287.4(1), Reg. 91-191]
  • When having to test for absence of voltage or having to work on or near energized exposed parts, An employer shall use CSA Standard Z462-15, “Workplace Electrical Safety” or a standard offering equivalent or better protection as a guide for the selection of personal protective equipment and other protective equipment that employees are required to use. [Subsection287.41(2), Reg. 91-191]
  • Don’t take short cuts! Shorting-up the wires or turning the power off at the wall switch are not acceptable methods of de-energizing electrical equipment. The electrical breaker should be switched off and properly locked out and tagged before any work is accomplished.
  • “electrically safe work condition” means, with respect to electrical equipment with a potential exceeding 30 Vac or 60 Vdc, a state in which an electrical conductor or a circuit part has been disconnected from energized parts of the electrical equipment, locked out, tested to ensure the absence of voltage and, if necessary, grounded.

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