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A male service technician arrived at a customer s house to perform pre-winter maintenance on an oil furnace. The customer then left the house and returned 90 minutes later. She noticed the ser- vice truck was still in the driveway. After 2 more hours, the customer entered the crawl space with a flashlight to look for the technician but could not see him. She then called the owner of the compan , who came to the house. He searched the crawl space and found the technician on his stomach, leaning on his elbows in front of the furnace. The assistant county coroner was called and pronounced the tech- nician dead at the scene. The victim had electrical burns on his scalp and right elbow.

After the incident, an electrician inspected the site. A toggle switch that supposedly controlled electrical power to the furnace was in the “off” position. The electrician described the wiring as “haphazard and confusing.”

Two weeks late , the county electrical inspector performed another inspection. He discovered that incor- rect wiring of the toggle switch allowed power to flow to the furnace even when the switch was in the “off” position. The owner of the company stated that the victim was a very thorough worker. Perhaps the victim performed more maintenance on the furnace than previous technicians, exposing himself to the electrical hazard.

This death could have been prevented!

  • The victim should have tested the circuit to make sure it was de-energized.

  • Employers should provide workers with appropriate equipment and training. Using safety equipment should be a requirement of the job. In this case, a simple circuit tester may have saved the victim s life.

  • Residential wiring should satisfy the National Electrical Code (NEC). Although the NEC is not retroac- tive, all homeowners should make sure their systems are safe.

NEC—National Electrical Code— a comprehensive listing of practices to protect workers and equipment from electrical hazards such as fire and electrocution

Electrical burn on hand and arm.

Section 2

Page 9

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