A 22 year old male foundry laborer was electrocuted when a piece of scrap metal he was loading into a damaged electric induction furnace became energized. The victim worked in a foundry with 30 persons and had been hired 2 weeks earlier. The foundry has a written safety program and holds weekly safety meetings. The parent company, employing 1000 persons, has a full time safety manager and a corporate safety committee that meets regularly. On the day of the incident a furnace tender (coworker) was manually loading stainless steel scrap into the open top of the furnace refractory while the furnace was energized and in operation. Unable to lift a large piece of scrap by himself, he called the victim to help him. The coworker wore leather gloves; the victim, cotton gloves. The victim had his thighs resting against the top edge of the furnace frame, providing a path. The furnace was jarred as it was being loaded, resulting in further cracking of the ceramic refractory, allowing molten metal to flow through the cracks in the refractory, making contact with the induction coil and metal mound, energizing the molten metal, scrap metal piece, and furnace frame. Recommendations were made that all electrically powered equipment be adequately grounded, that furnace refractories be maintained in good condition, that specific procedures for furnace refractory installation be developed, that electric induction furnaces be reevaluated to identify possible electrical safety design modifications, and that a maximum size and weight for manual loading of scrap metal pieces be established.
Division of Safety Research, NIOSH, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Morgantown, West Virginia, Report No. FACE-89-43, 7 pages