While attempting to repair and install a faulty, 8 foot long fluorescent light fixture, a laborer was electrocuted. He was in the third year of a 4 year apprentice program governed by the State of Ohio at a custom mold making shop. The light fixture was to be suspended by two sections of furnace chain about 2 feet below a 14 foot ceiling. During installation the excess chain was draped over sprinkler system pipes. Several times the fixture was secured in place and then plugged in, only to emit an orange glow. Workers unplugged the light, lowered it and laid it upside down. When plugged into an extension cord attached to a 110 volt receptacle, the bulbs lit properly. Without unplugging the fixture the victim turned it over, held it under his arm, and began to climb on a 2.5 foot tall metal stool when he was electrocuted. A coworker resting against the pipes of the sprinkler system was knocked backward by current that traveled up the chains and through the pipes. A short was found in the internal wiring of the fixture, which was active when the fixture was in its proper position, but not upside down. As the victim climbed the stool, the short reappeared, causing electrocution of the worker. Recommendations arising from this accident were that industrial electrical systems be periodically inspected and upgraded, that a comprehensive safety program be developed and implemented at this facility, that employees receive training in hazard awareness and recognition, and that proper work platforms be provided and used for elevated work surfaces.
Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, Report No. FACE-87-22, 4 pages