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Thursday, March 19, 2015
Another Electrical Near Fatality at LANL Involving a Post-Doc
Last Friday evening (3/13/15), there was an electrical incident in one of the P-Div labs at TA-53. A postdoc noticed a “tingling” when he was working on the (supposedly) grounded case of a stepper motor. Upon investigation he found ~60 volts a.c. on the outside of the case. The investigation is ongoing, so many details are not known.
The points that I want to make are twofold:
1) He was not expecting anything to be amiss, but received a shock anyway. It occurred Friday evening, when there are very few people around. Having said that, you can understand how this could have ended up very badly. My expectation is that if you are doing any lab work after hours ,that there be another person in the near vicinity.
2) As it turns out, he doesn’t appear to exhibit any ill effects, although his Deputy Group leader is taking him to Occ. Med. as a precaution. However, no one was notified until Monday morning. Anytime any untoward electrical event happens (or any safety related event for that matter), someone in your line management must be notified as soon as practical. By notification, I mean talking to a human being; voice mail, email, texts, etc. are insufficient. Your line manager will then follow up by notifying me and the FOD; both of which are required. You and your line management need to jointly ensure that you know how to contact them whenever a safety event occurs. This can be by posting numbers in your workspaces or putting them into your cellphone. If you can’t find them, my Blackberry number is appended below.
Please be safe out there and if you ever have a question as to whether you should let your line management know about a concern, then the answer is yes, let them know. Telling us about something that requires no action is much better than the opposite.
R. Douglas Fulton, Ph.D.
Los Alamos National Laboratory
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