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School HVAC mechanic electrocuted after contacting an energized 480 volt heating coil.

New Jersey Department of Health
Morgantown, WV: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Public Health Service, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, FACE 97NJ051, 1998 Mar; :1-8
On July 17, 1997, a 33-year-old male heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) mechanic was electrocuted while cleaning an HVAC system in a public elementary school. The incident occurred in the school's all-purpose room as the victim and a co-worker were servicing two large HVAC units, one of which had been leaking water. Before starting work, the two workers first tried to deenergize the units by shutting down the circuit breakers, a change from their usual procedure of turning off the power switches mounted on each unit. They inspected the first unit, found that it was wet and needed cleaning, and reenergized the ventilator fan to allow it to dry. The second unit was also dirty, so they decided to vacuum it out with a small vacuum cleaner. Entering the unit from a ladder raised to an access panel, the victim started to vacuum the loose dirt when he contacted the exposed 480 volt heating coils in the rear of the duct. He was electrocuted by the energized coils, which were on a separate fused circuit and not connected to the circuit breaker panels. NJDHSS FACE investigators concluded that, to prevent similar incidents in the future, these safety guidelines should be followed: 1. Employers and employees should ensure that all electrical circuits are deenergized and tested before working on them. 2. Employers should develop, implement, and enforce an electrical lock-out, tag-out procedure. 3. Employers should be aware of educational and training resources for health and safety information.
Accident-analysis; Accident-potential; Accident-prevention; Accidents; Injuries; Injury-prevention; Safety-education; Safety-practices; Safety-measures; Traumatic-injuries; Work-practices; Training; Region-2; Electric-properties; Electrical-conductivity; Electrical-hazards; Electrical-safety; Electrical-systems; Electricity; Electrocutions; Mechanical-cleaning; Mechanics; Occupational-accidents; Occupational-hazards; Work-analysis; Occupational-health-programs; Occupational-safety-programs; Safety-programs
Publication Date
Document Type
Field Studies; Fatality Assessment and Control Evaluation
Funding Type
Cooperative Agreement
Fiscal Year
NTIS Accession No.
NTIS Price
Identifying No.
FACE-97NJ051; Cooperative-Agreement-Number-U60-CCU-207088
SIC Code
Source Name
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health
Performing Organization
New Jersey Department of Health
Page last reviewed: September 2, 2020
Content source: National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health Education and Information Division