A maintenance worker was electrocuted while replacing a ballast in a fluorescent light fixture. The man had been employed at the company for 16 years as a maintenance worker and had been assigned to work vacation relief on the third shift. The task was routine for him. The worker removed the old fluorescent tubes, metal shade, and a line fuse from the black wire which should have been the hot wire. However, because polarity was not maintained, the black wire was neutral. He did not deenergize the conductor to fluorescent lights. He cut all eight wires which were connected to the old ballast and started to strip insulation from the white wire, which had become hot due to polarity reversal. While holding the white wire in his left hand he apparently braced his left index finger against the metal structure supporting the fixture. He received an electrical shock from the 277 volts servicing the light fixture. Near the accident site was a twist out outlet box attached to a universal lighting duct which provided 277 volts to four fluorescent light fixtures in the area. This connector should have been disconnected by the worker, but was not. As an added precaution, the line fuse located inside the light fixture should also be removed, which was done in this case. Recommendations included mandatory deenergizing of conductors by employees during electrical work, and the maintenance of correct electrical polarity throughout the electrical service area.
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